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Full text of "Three classics in the aesthetic of music: Monsieur Croche the dilettante hater"

MUSIC 



LIBRARY OF 
WELLESLEY COLLEGE 




GIFT OF 
Francis Grimes 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2012 with funding from 
Wellesley College Library 



http://archive.org/details/threeclassicsinaOOdebu 



THREE CLASSICS 

IN THE AESTHETIC 

OF MUSIC 



Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 
by Claude Debussy 

Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music 
by Ferruccio Busoni 

Essays before a Sonata 
by Charles E. Ives 



DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC., NEW YORK 



This new Dover edition, first published in 1962, 
is an unabridged and unaltered republication of the 
following: 

Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater by Claude 
Debussy, as published by Noel Douglas in 1927. Translated 
by B. N. Langdon Davies. Copyright © 1928 by The Viking 
Press, Inc. 

Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music by Ferruccio 
Busoni, as published by G. Schirmer, Inc., ca. 1911. 
Translated from the German by Dr. Th. Baker. 

Essays before a Sonata by Charles E. Ives, as pub- 
lished by The Knickerbocker Press in 1920. 



ST*- 



International Standard Book Number: 0-486-20320-4 

Manufactured in the United States of America 
Dover Publications, Inc. 

180 Varick Street 
New York, N.Y. 10014 



Contents 



Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 

by Claude Debussy 1 

I MONSIEUR CROCHE THE DILETTANTE HATER 3 

II A TALK ABOUT THE PRIX DE ROME AND SAINT-SAENS 8 

III THE SYMPHONY 16 

IV MOUSSORGSKI 19 
V THE PAUL DUKAS SONATA 20 

VI VIRTUOSOS 21 

VII THE OPERA 24 

VIII NIKISCH 26 

IX MASSENET 28 

X OPEN-AIR MUSIC 31 

XI RECOLLECTIONS 33 

XII RAMEAU 35 

XIII BEETHOVEN 38 

XIV THE PEOPLE'S THEATRE 40 
XV RICHARD STRAUSS 44 

XVI RICHARD WAGNER 46 

XVII SIEGFRIED WAGNER 49 

XVIII CESAR FRANCK 51 

XIX NEGLECT 52 

XX GRIEG 53 

XXI VINCENT d'indy 55 

XXII RICHTER 59 

XXIII BERLIOZ 61 

XXIV GOUNOD 65 
XXV AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHEVALIER W. GLUCK 67 



iv Contents 

Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music by Ferruccio Busoni 73 

ADDENDA 97 

Essays before a Sonata by Charles E. Ives 103 

I prologue 105 

II EMERSON HO 

III HAWTHORNE 133 

IV "the alcotts" 136 

V THOREAU 139 

VI EPILOGUE 155 

Index to Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 186 



Monsieur Croche the 
Dilettante Hater 



Claude Debussy 



Publisher s Note 



The chapters of this book consist of articles which ap- 
peared in the Revue Blanche during 1901, Gil Bias during 
1903-6, and in Musica during 1905 slightly altered, rearranged 
and added to by the author for publication in book form. 
The outbreak of war while the book was being printed caused 
it only to be issued in 1921 after Debussy's death. It appeared 
under the title Monsieur Croche Antidilettante in 1921, with 
the double imprint of the Librairie Dorbon Aine and the Nou- 
velle Revue Frangaise. In 1927 it was re-issued by the Librairie 
Gallimard, and it is from this edition that the present translation 
is made. 

While the book is as a whole a brilliant and permanent 
contribution to musical criticism, it must not be forgotten that 
it was written as journalism, and that some of the allusions to 
current gossip and events are ephemeral and obscure. To this 
fact also are due one or two repetitions of phrases. The transla- 
tors have tried to capture something of the subtle wit of the 
original. The individuality of the style, however, added to 
the fact that the author was not primarily a literary man and 
often allowed himself a certain freedom of construction and 
expression, has presented some difficulty and called at time for 
boldness in rendering his thought into the English language. 
Footnotes have been added where the information seemed 
necessary or interesting. 

Leon Vallas' book, Les Idees de Claude Debussy, of which 
an English translation by Maire O'Brien will be issued by the 
Oxford University Press in 1928, is a clear and simple co- 
ordination of Debussy's musical views based on his articles, 
of which the most important were selected by him for the 
present book. 



/ Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 

It was a lovely evening. I had decided to 
idle. I mean, of course, that I was dreaming. I do not want 
to imply that anything of great emotional value was happening 
or that I was laying the foundations of the Future. I was just 
enjoying that occasional care-free mood which brings peace 
with all the world. 

And of what was I dreaming? What were my limits? 
What was the goal of my work? Questions, I fear, prompted 
by a somewhat childish egotism and the craving to escape from 
an ideal with which one has lived too long! Questions, more- 
over, that are but a thin disguise for the foolish yearning 
to be regarded as superior to others! The struggle to surpass 
others has never been really great if dissociated from the noble 
ideal of surpassing oneself— though this, involving as it does 
the sacrifice of one's cherished personality, implies a very special 
kind of alchemy. Besides, superiority over others is difficult 
to maintain and gives in the end but a barren victory. The 
pursuit of universal approbation means the waste of a great 
deal of time in continual demonstration and sedulous self- 
advertisement. These things may win one the honour of in- 
clusion in a collection of distinguished persons whose names 
are used as the sauce for insipid conversations on art. But 
I will not labour the point. I should not like to check ambition. 

The evening was as lovely as ever, but, as must already 
be obvious, I was out of humour with myself— I had lost grip 
and found that I was drifting into the most irritating general- 
isations. 

At this precise moment my door-bell rang and I made the 
acquaintance of Monsieur Croche. It is unnecessary to check 
the flow of this narrative with the obvious or trifling incidents 
of his first visit. 

Monsieur Croche was a spare, wizened man and his gestures 
were obviously suited to the conduct of metaphysical discus- 

3 



4 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

sions; his features are best pictured by recalling those of Tom 
Lane, the jockey, and M. Thiers. He spoke almost in a whisper 
and never laughed, occasionally enforcing his remarks with a 
quiet smile which, beginning at his nose, wrinkled his whole 
face, like a pebble flung into still waters, and lasted for an 
intolerably long time. 

He aroused my curiosity at once by his peculiar views 
on music. He spoke of an orchestral score as if it were a 
picture. He seldom used technical words, but the dimmed and 
slightly worn elegance of his rather unusual vocabulary seemed 
to ring like old coins. I remember a parallel he drew between 
Beethoven's orchestration— which he visualised as a black-and- 
white formula resulting in an exquisite gradation of greys— 
and that of Wagner, a sort of many-coloured "make-up" spread 
almost uniformly, in which, he said, he could no longer dis- 
tinguish the tone of a violin from that of a trombone. 

Since his intolerable smile was especially evident when he 
talked of music, I suddenly decided to ask him what his pro- 
fession might be. He replied in a voice which checked any at- 
tempt at comment: "Dilettante Hater." Then he went on 
monotonously and irritably: 

"Have you noticed the hostility of a concert-room audience? 
Have you studied their almost drugged expression of boredom, 
indifference and even stupidity? They never grasp the noble 
dramas woven into the symphonic conflict in which one is con- 
scious of the possibility of reaching the summit of the structure 
of harmony and breathing there an atmosphere of perfect 
beauty. Such people always seem like guests who are more 
or less well-bred; they endure the tedium of their position with 
patience, and they remain only because they wish to be seen 
taking their leave at the end; otherwise, why come? You must 
admit that this is a good reason for an eternal hatred of music." 

I argued that I had observed and had even shared in 
highly commendable displays of enthusiasm. To which he 
answered: 

"You are greatly in error; for, if you showed so much en- 
thusiasm, it was with the secret hope that some day a similar 
honour would be paid to you. Surely you know that a genuine 
appreciation of beauty can only result in silence? Tell me, 
when you see the daily wonder of the sunset have you ever 



Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 5 

thought of applauding? Yet you will admit that it is a rather 
more unrehearsed effect than all your musical trifles. More- 
over, face to face with the sunset you feel so mean a thing 
that you cannot become a part of it. But before a so-called 
work of art you are yourself and you have a classical jargon 
which gives you an opportunity for eloquence." 

I dared not confess how nearly I agreed with him, since 
nothing withers conversation like agreement. I preferred to 
ask if he himself played any instrument. He raised his head 
sharply and replied: 

"I dislike specialists. Specialisation is for me the narrow- 
ing of my universe. It reminds me of those old horses who, in 
bygone days, worked the roundabouts and died to the well- 
known strains of the Marche Lorraine! 1 Nevertheless, I know 
all music and it has only given me a special pride in being 
safe from every kind of surprise. Two bars suffice to give me 
the clue to a symphony, or to any other musical incident. 

"Though we may be certain that some great men have 
a stubborn determination always to break fresh ground, it is 
not so with many others, who do nothing but repeat the 
thing in which they have once succeeded. Their skill leaves 
me cold. They have been hailed as Masters. Beware lest this 
be not a polite method of getting rid of them or of excusing 
the sameness of their performances. In short, I try to forget 
music because it obscures my perception of what I do not know 
or shall only know to-morrow. Why cling to something one 
knows too well?" 

I mentioned the most famous of our contemporaries and 
Monsieur Croche was more aggressive than ever. 

"I am much more interested in sincere and honestly felt 
impressions than in criticism, which often enough resembles 
brilliant variations on the theme: 'Since you do not agree 
with me, you are mistaken'; or else: 'You have talent, I have 
none; it is useless to go any further.' In all compositions I 
endeavour to fathom the diverse impulses inspiring them and 
their inner life. Is not this much more interesting than the 
game of pulling them to pieces, like curious watches? 

"People forget that, as children, they were forbidden to 
pull their jumping-jacks to pieces— even then such behaviour was 

i Orchestral military march by Louis Ganne. 



6 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

treason against the mysteries— and they continue to want to 
poke their aesthetic noses where they have no business to be. 
Though they no longer rip open puppets, yet they explain, 
pull to pieces and in cold blood slay the mysteries; it is com- 
paratively easy; moreover you can chat about it. Well, well! 
an obvious lack of understanding excuses some of them; but 
others, act with greater ferocity and premeditation, for they 
must of necessity protect their cherished little talents. These 
last have a loyal following. 

"I am only slightly concerned with works hallowed either 
by success or tradition: once and for all, Meyerbeer, 1 Thalberg, 2 
and Reyer, 3 are men of genius; otherwise they are of no im- 
portance. 

"On Sundays, when God is kind, I hear no music: please 
accept my apologies. Finally, be so good as to note the word 
'impressions' which is applicable, since it leaves me free to 
preserve my emotion from all superfluous aestheticism. 

"You are inclined to exaggerate events which, in Bach's 
day, would have appeared natural. You talk to me about 
Dukas' 4 sonata. He is probably one of your friends and even 
a musical critic. Good reasons for speaking well of him. Your 
praise, however, has been surpassed; for Pierre Lalo, 5 in an 
article in Le Temps, devoted exclusively to this sonata, made 
simultaneous sacrifice to Dukas of the sonatas written by 
Schumann and Chopin. As a matter of fact, Chopin's nervous 
temperament was ill-adapted to the endurance needed for the 
construction of a sonata: he made elaborate 'first drafts.' Yet we 
may say that Chopin inaugurated a special method of treating 
this form, not to mention the charming artistry which he de- 
vised in this connection. He was fertile in ideas, which he 
often invested without demanding that hundred per cent, on 

1 Giacomo Meyerbeer, born Berlin, 1791; died, Paris, 1864; composed 
the highly successful operas, Robert le Diable, Les Huguenots, Le Pro- 
phete, etc. 

2 Sigismund Thalberg, born Geneva, 1812; died, 1871. Although 
this composer and artist had a great vogue in his time and exercised some 
influence on other composers, his works are now practically forgotten. 

3 Ernest Louis Etienne Rey, born Marseilles, 1823^ died, 1909; known 
under the name of Reyer, which he considered more suitable to a musical 
career, as the composer of the operas, Sigurd, Salammbo, etc. 

4 Paul Dukas, born Paris, 1865; the composer of Ariane et Barbe- 
bleue, etc. 

5 Pierre Lalo, born 1866; composer and musical critic of Le Temps. 



Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 7 

the transaction which is the brightest halo of some of our 
Masters. 

"Lalo, of course, evokes the noble shade of Beethoven 
in reference to the sonata of your friend Dukas. Personally, I 
should have been only mildly flattered! Beethoven's sonatas are 
very badly written for the piano; they are, particularly those 
that came later, more accurately described as orchestral tran- 
scriptions. There seems often to be lacking a third hand which 
I am sure Beethoven heard; at least I hope so. It would have 
been safer to leave Schumann and Chopin alone; undoubtedly 
they wrote for the piano; and if that is not enough for Lalo, 
he ought at least to be grateful to them for having opened a 
way towards the perfection represented by a Dukas— and inci- 
dentally some others." 

Monsieur Croche uttered these last words with an imper- 
turbable detachment: a challenge to be taken up or ignored. 
I was too much interested to take it up and left him to con- 
tinue. There was a long silence, during which there came 
from him no sign of life save for the smoke ascending in blue 
spirals from his cigar which he watched curiously as if he were 
contemplating strange distortions— perhaps bold systems. His 
silence became disconcerting and rather alarming. At length 
he resumed: 

"Music is a sum total of scattered forces. You make an 
abstract ballad of them! I prefer the simple notes of an Egyptian 
shepherd's pipe; for he collaborates with the landscape and 
hears harmonies unknown to your treatises. Musicians listen 
only to the music written by cunning hands, never to that which 
is in nature's script. To see the sun rise is more profitable 
than to hear the Pastoral Symphony. What is the use of your 
almost incomprehensible art? Ought you not to suppress all 
the parasitical complexities which make music as ingenious 
as the lock of a strong-box? You paw the ground because you 
only know music and submit to strange and barbarous laws. 
You are hailed with high-sounding praises, but you are merely 
cunning! Something between a monkey and a lackey." 

I ventured to say that some had tried in poetry, others 
in painting— I added with some trepidation one or two musi- 
cians—to shake off the ancient dust of tradition and it had only 



8 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

resulted in their being treated as symbolists or impressionists 
—convenient terms for pouring scorn on one's fellows. 

"It is only journalists and hucksters who treat them so," 
Monsieur Croche continued without a falter, "and it is of no 
importance. A beautiful idea in embryo has in it something 
absurd for fools. There is a surer hope of beauty in such 
derided men than in those poor sheep who flock docilely to 
the slaughter-houses which a discerning fate has prepared for 
them. 

"To be unique, faultless! The enthusiasm of society spoils 
an artist for me, such is my fear that, as a result, he will become 
merely an expression of society. 

"Discipline must be sought in freedom, and not within 
the formulas of an outworn philosophy only fit for the feeble- 
minded. Give ear to no man's counsel; but listen to the wind 
which tells in passing the history of the world." 

As he spoke Monsieur Croche appeared to be lit up from 
within. I seemed to see into him and his words came to me 
like some strange music. I cannot adequately convey his peculiar 
eloquence. Something like this, perhaps: 

"Do you know anything more splendid than to discover 
by chance a genius who has been unrecognized through the 
ages? But to have been such a genius oneself— can any glory 
equal it?" 

Day was breaking; Monsieur Croche was visibly fatigued 
and went away. I accompanied him as far as the landing door; 
he no more thought of shaking my hand than I of thanking 
him. For a considerable time I listened to the sound of his 
steps dying away flight by flight. I dared not hope that I should 
ever see him again. 



77 A Talk about the Prix de Rome and 
Saint-Saens 

Irresistibly bewitched by the magic of 
the ancient forests I had stayed late one autumn day in the 
country. From the fall of the golden leaves that invest the 
splendid obsequies of the trees, from the clear angelus that 



A Talk about the Prix de Rome and Saint-Saens 9 

calls the fields to rest, rose a gentle and alluring voice counsel- 
ling oblivion. The sun was setting in its solitude; no peasants 
were inspired to take lithographic poses in the foreground. 
Beasts and men were returning peacefully, having completed 
some common task whose beauty had this special distinction, 
that it called no more for encouragement than for disapproba- 
tion. Remote were those discussions on art in which the very 
names of great men sometimes seemed to be words of abuse. 
Forgotten was the petty artificial feverishness of the "first-night." 
I was alone, pleasantly care-free; perhaps I had never loved 
music more than at this moment when I heard no talk of it. 
It apeared to me in its complete beauty, not in the hectic 
scantiness of trivial symphonic or lyrical fragments. Now and 
again I thought of Monsieur Croche; for he has an unobtrusive 
and shadowy personality which can be fitted into any landscape 
without interfering with its composition. But I had to leave 
these calm joys and to return, impelled by that superstition of 
the town which makes many men prefer to be hustled sooner 
than not to be a part of the movement of which they are the 
creaking and unconscious works. As I was passing along the 
fashionable sameness of the Boulevard Malesherbes in the drab 
twilight, I caught sight of the spare figure of Monsieur Croche 
and, taking advantage of his eccentric habits, I fell into step 
beside him without further ceremony. A quick glance assured 
me of his acquiescence and presently he began to speak in his 
quaint asthmatic voice, intensified now by the rawness of the 
air which gave a strange quality of tone to every word he 
uttered. 

"Among the institutions on which France prides herself, 
do you know any more ridiculous than the institution of the 
Prix de Rome? 1 I am aware that this has often been said and 
still more often written, but apparently without any effect, since 

i L'Ecole nationale et speciale des beaux-arts, under the direction of 
the Bureau de l'enseignement, gives instruction in the arts and holds 
competitions, among which is that for the Prix de Rome. The final award 
is made by the judges in all sections of the Institute (L'Acad£mie des 
beaux-arts) acting together. This award entitles the holder to a period 
of free travel and residence at the Acad£mie de France in the Villa Medicis 
at Rome. The foundation of the Acad^mie in 1666 has been variously 
attributed to Poussin, Le Brun, or Charles Errard. It was for pupils capable 
of profiting thereby to continue their studies in Italy. The competition for 
the Prix de Rome was established by decree in 1871. 



10 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

it continues to exist with that deplorable obstinacy which dis- 
tinguishes absurd ideas." 

I ventured to answer that possibly the institution derived 
its strength from the fact that it had attained in certain circles 
to the position of a superstition. To have won or not to have 
won the Prix de Rome settled the question of whether one 
did or did not possess talent. If it was not absolutely certain, it 
was at least convenient and provided public opinion with a 
sort of ready-reckoner. 

Monsieur Croche whistled through his teeth— to himself, 
I suppose. 

"Yes, you won the Prix de Rome— Observe, sir, that I 
readily admit that one should help young people to travel 
peacefully in Italy and even in Germany; but why restrict them 
to those two countries? Above all, why the vexatious diploma 
which puts them on a plane with fat cattle? 

"The Prix de Rome is a game; or, rather, a national sport. 
The rules are taught in places called Conservatoires, Art Schools, 
etc. 

"The contests, preceded by strict training, take place once 
a year and the umpires of the game are members of the In- 
stitute; hence the curious fact that Bouguereau 1 and Massenet 2 
judge these games indifferently whether played in music, paint- 
ing, sculpture, architecture or engraving. No one has yet thought 
of including a dancer amongst them, though that would be 
logical, Terpsichore being not the most negligible of the nine 
Muses. 

"Without wishing to discredit the institution of the Prix 
de Rome, we may at least maintain its lack of foresight. By that 
I mean to suggest that very young people are cynically given 
over to the fascinating temptations of a boundless liberty; a 
liberty, moreover, which they do not know how to use. They 
have to fulfil the conditions in the book of rules which controls 
the movements of 'travelling students,' and lo! they are relieved 
of any further responsibility. When they arrive in Rome, how- 

1 The French painter, William Bouguereau, born and died at La 
Rochelle, 1825-1905. 

2 Jules Massenet, the composer of the operas Le Cid, Manon, Thais, 
La Navarraise, Werther, etc.; born Saint-Etienne, 1842; died Paris, 1912. 



A Talk about the Prix de Rome and Saint-Saens 11 

ever, the limited knowledge they possess is of their own craft 
alone! These young people, confused at the outset by an utter 
change in their way of life, are expected to provide for them- 
selves the inspirational energy needful to the soul of an artist. 
This is impossible! And anyone who reads the annual report on 
the travelling students will be amazed at the severity of its 
terms; nor are the holders of studentships to blame if their 
canons are somewhat confused; one should rather blame those 
who send them to a country redolent everywhere of the purest 
art, whilst leaving them free to interpret that art in their own 
way. Further, is not the academic detachment of the gentlemen 
of the Institute, who decide which among a number of young 
persons shall be an artist, astonishing in its ingenuousness? What 
do they know about it? Are they so sure of being artists them- 
selves? On what then do they base their claim to control so 
enigmatical a destiny? Would it not, indeed, be better for 
them to have recourse to the simple method of drawing lots? 
Who knows? Chance is sometimes so inspired! No, we must look 
elsewhere— Never judge by works on set themes, or of such a 
character that it is impossible to know for certain whether the 
young people know their business as musicians. Let them re- 
ceive a certificate for a high level of attainment, if that is what 
is wanted; but no certificate for imagination, since that is useless 
and grotesque! Once this formality is fulfilled, let them travel 
across Europe; let them choose a recognised master for them- 
selves; or, if they can find him, a sensible fellow who can teach 
them that art is not necessarily restricted to works subsidised by 
the State!" 

Monsieur Croche paused to cough distressingly, for which 
he blamed his cigar, which had gone out. 

"We argue," said he, holding it up, "and this goes out, 
ironically accusing me of talking too much, warning me that 
finally it will bury me under a heap of ash: an attractively pan- 
theistic funeral pyre, you will admit, and a mild comment on 
the fact that one should not believe oneself indispensable, and 
that one should accept the brevity of life as the most useful of 
precepts." 

Then he turned abruptly to me: 



12 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

"On Sunday I was at Lamoureux's, 1 where they hissed your 
music. You ought to be grateful to an audience for being suffi- 
ciently moved to take the trouble to blow down keys— implements 
usually considered with justice to be domestic, and there- 
fore unsuitable as weapons of warfare. The method of butcher- 
boys whistling through their fingers is much to be preferred. 
One lives and learns. Chevillard, on this occasion, showed once 
again an astounding and manifold knowledge of music. As to 
the Choral Symphony, 2 his vigour and decision in performance 
are such that he seems to be playing it by himself; he more than 
merited the praises usually showered on him." 

I could only acquiesce, merely adding that since I did my 
best to write music for its own sake and disinterestedly, it was 
logical that I should run the risk of displeasing people who are 
so devoted to one musical method that they remain faithfully 
blind to its wrinkles or cosmetics. 

"The people of whom we speak," he went on, "are not to 
blame. You ought, rather, to blame the artists who perform the 
barren task of ministering to and maintaining the deliberate in- 
difference of the public. In addition to this offence, these same 
artists know how to strive just long enough to gain a footing in 
the market-place; but, the sale of their goods once assured, 
they retire promptly, seeming to apologise to the public for the 
trouble it has taken to admit them. They wallow in success, 
resolutely turning their backs on their youth. They are never 
able to rise to a fame happily reserved for men whose lives, 
consecrated to the search for a world of ever-renewed sensations 
and forms, have ended in the joyous conviction of a noble task 
accomplished. Such men have obtained what may be termed 
a 'last night' success— if success be not too mean a word for what 
is glory. 

"Finally, to take a recent example, I am sorry to see how 
difficult it is to keep one's respect for an artist who was once 
filled with enthusiasm and a thirst for pure glory. I hate senti- 

1 Charles Lamoureux, the founder of the celebrated Paris concerts 
bearing his name, bom Bordeaux, 1834; died Paris, 1899. His son-in-law, 
Camille Chevillard, became his assistant and continued the concerts after 
Lamoureux's death. 

2 Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D minor, op. 125. 



A Talk about the Prix de Rome and Saint-Saens 13 

mentality! But I wish I could forget that his name is Camille 
Saint-Saens!" 1 

I merely answered: 

"I have listened to Les Barbares." 

He continued with an emotion I had not expected from 
him: 

"How is it possible to go so completely wrong? Saint-Saens 
knows the world's music better than anyone. How could he 
forget that he made known and compelled recognition for the 
turbulent genius of Liszt? How could he forget his worship of the 
elder Bach? 

"Why this itch to write operas and to descend from Louis 
Gallet 2 to Victorien Sardou, 3 spreading the detestable error that 
it is necessary to 'write for the stage?' A thing never compatible 
with 'writing music' " 

I offered a few timid objections, such as: 

"Is Les Barbares worse than many other operas mentioned 
by you? Should it make us forget the earlier Saint-Saens?" 

Monsieur Croche interrupted sharply: 

"That opera is worse than the others just because it is 
by Saint-Saens. He owed it to himself, and still more to music, 
never to have written that romance embodying a little of every- 
thing, even a farandole, of which they praise the 'archaic savour'; 
it is a feeble echo of that 'Street in Cairo' that was the success 
of the 1889 Exhibition; its archaism is dubious. Running all 
through it is a painful seeking for effect, suggested by a libretto 
containing tags for the suburbs and situations which, by their 
very nature, make the music absurd. The mimicry of the singers 
and the traditional sardine-box staging, so grimly preserved by 
the Opera, polishes off the performance and any hope of art. 

"Does no one care sufficiently for Saint-Saens to tell him 



i Charles Camille Saint-Saens, the composer of the operas Samson 
et Dalila and Les Barbares, La Danse Macabre, etc., born Paris, 1835. 

2 Louis Gallet, born Valence, Drome, 1835; died 1898; was a well- 
known writer of libretti. Among his best-known works are Le Cid, Thais, 
L'Attaque du Moulin, etc. 

3 The French dramatic writer, Victorien Sardou, born Paris, 1831; 
died 1908. Among his best-known works are Madame Sans-Gene, La Tosca, 
Les Pattes-de-Mouche. 



14 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

he has written music enough and that he would be better em- 
ployed in following his belated vocation of explorer?" 1 

Monsieur Croche was tempted by another cigar and said 
to me by way of farewell: 

"Forgive me, but I should not like to spoil this one." 

Since I had gone far past my home, I retraced my steps, 
thinking of Monsieur Croche and of his morose impartiality. 
Looking at it broadly, it showed a little of the resentment we 
feel for those whom we have once deeply loved and whose 
slightest change seems treachery. I tried, too, to picture Saint- 
Saens on the evening of the first performance of Les Barbares 
recalling, amid the applause which greeted his name, the sound 
of the hisses which welcomed the first hearing of his Danse 
Macabre, 2 and I liked to think that such a memory was not 
distasteful to him. 

Then I thought of years now far distant. 

My happiest impressions connected with the Prix de Rome 
were independent of it. I was on the Pont des Arts awaiting the 
result of the competition and watching with delight the scurry- 
ing of the little Seine steamers. I was quite calm, having for- 
gotten all emotion due to anything Roman, so seductive was 
the charm of the gay sunshine playing on the ripples, a charm 
which keeps those delightful idlers, who are the envy of Europe, 
hour after hour on the bridges. 

Suddenly somebody tapped me on the shoulder, and said 
breathlessly: 

"You've won the prize!" 

Believe me or not, I can assure you that all my pleasure 
vanished! I saw in a flash the boredom, the vexations inevitably 
incident to the slightest official recognition. Besides, I felt that 
I was no longer free. 

These impressions soon faded: we cannot immediately be 

insensible of that little ray of provisional glory which the Prix 

de Rome gives: and when I reached the Villa Medicis, 3 in 1885, 

I almost thought I must be that darling of the gods told of in 

ancient legends. 

i This, no doubt, refers to Saint-Saens' extended musical tours in 
Europe and even in northern Africa. 

2 See Note 1, p. 13. 

3 See Note p. 9. 



A Talk about the Prix de Rome and Saint-Saens 15 

Cabat, 1 a reputable landscape painter as well as a man 
of the world of some distinction, was Director of the Academie 
de France 2 in Rome at the time. He never interfered with the 
students, save in an administrative capacity. He was delightful. 
Hebert 3 succeeded him soon after. I gathered from a recent con- 
versation that this eminent painter has remained "Roman" to 
the very finger-tips. Indeed his intolerance of anything against 
Rome and the Villa Medicis is proverbial. He would allow no 
criticism on those two subjects; and I still remember how, 
when I complained of being housed in a room with walls painted 
green, which seemed to me to retreat as I approached them 
—a room well known to students as the "Etruscan Tomb"— 
Hebert assured me that it was of no importance. He even added 
that one could, if necessary, sleep among the ruins of the Coli- 
seum. The blessing of experiencing a "historic tremor" would 
compensate for the risk of catching fever. 

Hebert loved music passionately, but Wagner's music not 
at all. At that time I was a Wagnerian to the pitch of forgetting 
the simplest rules of courtesy, nor did I imagine that I could 
ever come almost to agree with this enthusiastic old man who 
had travelled through all these emotions with his eyes open, 
whereas we hardly grasped their meaning or how to use them. 

Then began that student life, which has something in 
common with the life of a cosmopolitan hotel, a free college, 
and the discipline of a hostel. I can recall the dining-room at 
the Villa, lined with portraits of Prix de Rome winners, ancient 
and modern. They reached to the ceiling, becoming almost 
indiscernible; it is quite true that no one ever talks about them 
now. Each face wears the same rather dejected expression; they 
seem out of their element. After a lapse of several months the 
multiplicity of these frames with their fixed dimensions makes 
the beholder feel that the same prize-winner is repeated to 
infinity! 

The conversations at the table very much resemble the 

i The French landscape painter, Louis Nicolas Cabat, born and died 
Paris, 1812-1893, was one of the founders of the modern school of land- 
scape painting. 

2 See Note p. 9. 

3 Ernest Hebert, French painter of historical subjects and portraits, 
born and died Grenoble, 1817-1908. 



16 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

gossip at a table d'hote, and it would be idle to imagine that 
new theories of art, or even the burning dreams of the old masters 
are discussed. Though the Villa Medicis is therefore a mediocre 
home of Art, it is nevertheless a very rapid school for the prac- 
tical side of life, so large looms the thought of the figure one will 
cut on one's return to Paris. Intercourse with Roman society 
is virtually non-existent, since its inaccessibility equals its self- 
sufficiency, and the youthful and thoroughly French independ- 
ence of a student's mind consorts ill with Roman frigidity. 
Travel through Italy remains the only resource: a poor resource, 
from which it is impossible to derive the desired profit owing 
to a lack of connections in the towns through which one passes 
as a foreigner. Such connections could be easily established, 
since a little thought would provide the remedy. The best one 
can do is to buy photographs, the patience of the young women 
engaged in that trade being as unlimited as their smiles. 

I was never again to meet Monsieur Croche. But do not 
the ghosts of hushed voices wait on us all? It is only just, there- 
fore, to attribute to him a large share in the following pages, 
although I realise my inability to differentiate clearly between 
the speakers in an imaginary conversation. 



Ill The Symphony 

A fog of verbiage and criticism sur- 
rounds the Choral Symphony. 1 It is amazing that it has not 
been finally buried under the mass of prose which it has pro- 
voked. Wagner intended to complete the orchestration. Others 
fancied that they could explain and illustrate the theme by 
means of pictures. If we admit to a mystery in this Symphony 
we might clear it up; but is it worth while? There was not an 
ounce of literature in Beethoven, not at any rate in the accepted 
sense of the word. He had a great love of music, representing 

l Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D minor, op. 125. The last movement 
is nominally a setting of Schiller's Hymn to Joy, with full orchestra, full 
choir and four solo singers. 



The Symphony 17 

to him, as it did, the joy and passion piteously absent from his 
private life. Perhaps we ought in the Choral Symphony to look 
for nothing more than a magnificent gesture of musical pride. 
A little notebook with over two hundred different renderings 
of the dominant theme in the Finale of this Symphony shows 
how persistently Beethoven pursued his search and how entirely 
musical his guiding motive was; Schiller's lines can have only 
been used for their appeal to the ear. Beethoven determined 
that his leading idea should be essentially self-developing and, 
while it is of extraordinary beauty in itself, it becomes sublime 
because of its perfect response to his purpose. It is the most 
triumphant example of the moulding of an idea to the pre- 
conceived form; at each leap forward there is a new delight, 
without either effort or appearance of repetition; the magical 
blossoming, so to speak, of a tree whose leaves burst forth simul- 
taneously. Nothing is superfluous in this stupendous work, not 
even the Andante, declared by modern aestheticism to be over 
long; is it not a subtly conceived pause between the persistent 
rhythm of the Scherzo and the instrumental flood that rolls 
the voices irresistibly onward to the glory of the Finale} Beet- 
hoven had already written eight symphonies and the figure nine 
seems to have had for him an almost mystic significance. He 
determined to surpass himself. I can scarcely see how his success 
can be questioned. The flood of human feeling which overflows 
the ordinary bounds of the symphony sprang from a soul drunk 
with liberty, which, by an ironical decree of fate, beat itself 
against the gilded bars within which the misdirected charity of 
the great had confined him. Beethoven must have suffered cruelly 
in his ardent longing that humanity should find utterance 
through him; hence the call of his thousand-voiced genius to the 
humblest and poorest of his brethren. Did they hear it? That is 
the question. Recently the Choral Symphony was performed to- 
gether with several of Richard Wagner's highly-spiced master- 
pieces. Once again Tannhauser, Siegmund and Lohengrin voiced 
the claims of the leit-motif! The stern and loyal mastery of our 
great Beethoven easily triumphed over this vague and high- 
flown charlatanism. 

It seems to me that the proof of the futility of the sym- 
phony has been established since Beethoven. Indeed, Schumann 



18 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

and Mendelssohn did no more than respectfully repeat the same 
forms with less power. The Ninth Symphony none the less was 
a demonstration of genius, a sublime desire to augment and to 
liberate the usual forms by giving them the harmonious propor- 
tions of a fresco. 

Beethoven's real teaching then was not to preserve the old 
forms, still less to follow in his early steps. We must throw 
wide the windows to the open sky; they seem to me to have 
only just escaped being closed for ever. The fact that here and 
there a genius succeeds in this form is but a poor excuse for 
the laborious and stilted compositions which we are accustomed 
to call symphonies. 

The young Russian school has endeavoured to give new 
life to the symphony by borrowing ideas from popular melodies; 
it has succeeded in cutting brilliant gems; but are not the themes 
entirely disproportionate to the developments into which they 
have been forced? Yet the fashion for popular airs has spread 
quickly throughout the musical world— from east to west the 
tiniest villages have been ransacked and simple tunes, plucked 
from the mouths of hoary peasants, find themselves, to their 
consternation, trimmed with harmonic frills. This gives them 
an appearance of pathetic discomfort, but a lordly counterpoint 
ordains that they shall forget their peaceful origin. 

Must we conclude that the symphony, in spite of so many 
attempted transformations, belongs to the past by virtue of its 
studied elegance, its formal elaboration and the philosophical 
and artificial attitude of its audience? Has it not in truth merely 
replaced its old tarnished frame of gold with the stubborn brass 
of modern instrumentation? 

A symphony is usually built up on a chant heard by the 
composer as a child. The first section is the customary presenta- 
tion of a theme on which the composer proposes to work; then 
begins the necessary dismemberment; the second section seems 
to take place in an experimental laboratory; the third section 
cheers up a little in a quite childish way interspersed with deeply 
sentimental phrases during which the chant withdraws as is 
more seemly; but it reappears and the dismemberment goes on; 
the professional gentlemen, obviously interested, mop their 
brows and the audience calls for the composer. But the com- 



Moussorgski 19 

poser does not appear. He is engaged in listening modestly to 
the voice of tradition which prevents him, it seems to me, from 
hearing the voice that speaks within him. 



IV Moussorgski 

Moussorgski's Nursery is a suite of seven 
melodies, each a scene from childhood. It is a masterpiece. Mous- 
sorgski is not well-known in France; for which we may be ex- 
cused by pointing out that he is no better known in Russia. He 
was born at Karevo, Central Russia, in 1839 and he died in 1881 
in the Nicholas Military Hospital, St. Petersburg. 

It is evident that he had not very long for the development 
of his genius; and he lost no time, for he will leave an indelible 
impression on the minds of those who love him or will love him 
in the future. No one has given utterance to the best within us 
in tones more gentle or profound: he is unique, and will remain 
so, because his art is spontaneous and free from arid formulas. 
Never has a more refined sensibility been conveyed by such 
simple means; it is like the art of an enquiring savage discover- 
ing music step by step through his emotions. Nor is there ever 
a question of any particular form; at all events the form is so 
varied that by no possibility whatsoever can it be related to any 
established, one might say official, form, since it depends on and 
is made up of successive minute touches mysteriously linked to- 
gether by means of an instinctive clairvoyance. 

Sometimes, too, Moussorgski conveys shadowy sensations 
of trembling anxiety which move and wring the heart. In the 
Nursery there is the prayer of a little girl before she falls asleep 
which conveys the thoughts and the sensitive emotions of a child, 
the delightful ways of little girls pretending to be grown-up; all 
with a sort of feverish truth of interpretation only to be found 
here. The Doll's Lullaby would seem to have been conceived 
word by word, through an amazing power of sympathetic inter- 
pretation and of visualizing the realms of that special fairyland 
peculiar to the mind of a child. The end of the lullaby is so 
gently drowsy that the little singer falls asleep over her own 



20 Debussy: Monsieur Croc he 

fancies. Here too is the dreadful little boy astride a stick turning 
the room into a battlefield, now smashing the arms and now the 
legs of the poor defenceless chairs. He cannot do this without 
hurting himself too. Then we hear tears and screams; happiness 
vanishes. It is nothing serious; a moment on his mother's lap, 
a healing kiss, and the battle starts afresh and again the chairs 
do not know where to hide. 

All these little dramas are set down, I repeat, with the utmost 
simplicity; Moussorgski was content with a construction which 

would have seemed paltry to Mr. 1 forget his name! or with 

so instinctive a modulation that it would be quite beyond the 

range of Mr. the same fellow! We shall have more to say 

about Moussorgski; he has many claims to our devotion. 



V The Paul Dukas Sonata 

Music, nowadays, tends to become more 
and more an accompaniment for sentimental or tragic incidents, 
and plays the ambiguous part of the showman at the door of a 
booth behind which is displayed the sinister form of "Mr. 
Nobody." 

True lovers of music seldom frequent fairs; they merely 
have a piano and feverishly play a few pages over and over 
again; as sure a means of intoxication as "just, subtle and 
mighty opium," and the least enervating way of spending happy 
hours. Paul Dukas 1 seems to have had such people in mind when 
writing his sonata. It breathes a kind of mystic emotion and 
presents a rigidly connected sequence of ideas which seem to 
compel a close and careful study. This compelling quality gives 
a peculiar stamp to nearly all the work of Paul Dukas, even 
when it is merely episodic. It is the result of the patient intensity 
with which he adjusts the several parts of his harmonic scheme. 
It is to be feared that such work may prove difficult to follow 
on a concert platform. No reflection is thereby cast on either the 
beauty or the vision of the sonata. Although the mind con- 
ceiving this work unites a constructive purpose with an imagina- 

i See Note 4, p. 6. 



Virtuosos 21 

tive idea, there is no need to assume a desire for complexity; 
nothing could be more deliberately absurd. 

Paul Dukas knows the potentialities of music; it is not merely 
a matter of brilliant tone playing upon the listener to the 
point of enervation, an easy thing to understand where several 
kinds of music which seem antagonistic are united without 
difficulty. For him music is an inexhaustible store of forms, of 
pregnant memories which allow him to mould his ideas to the 
limits of his imaginative world. He is the master of his emotion 
and knows how to keep it from noisy futility. That is why he 
never indulges in those parasitic developments which so often 
disfigure the most beautiful effects. When we consider the third 
movement of his sonata, we discover under the picturesque 
surface an energy that guides the rhythmic fantasy with the 
silent precision of steel mechanism. The same energy prevails 
in the last part, where the art of distributing emotion appears 
in its highest form; one might even call this emotion construc- 
tive, since it displays a beauty akin to perfect lines in architecture, 
lines that dissolve into and are keyed to the spatial colour of air 
and sky, the whole being wedded in a complete and final 
harmony. 



VI Virtuosos 

During the last few weeks there has been 
a great influx of German conductors. This is not as serious 
as an epidemic, though it makes more noise, a conductor being 
multiplied by ninety. I do not deny that Weingartner 1 or Richard 
Strauss, 2 Mottl 3 with his vigour or the great Richter, 4 may make 
the outraged beauty of the Masters blossom anew, but there is 

i The celebrated conductor and composer, Paul Felix Weingartner, 
was born Zara, Dalmatia, in 1863. 

2 Richard Strauss, the famous conductor and composer of Salome, 
Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier, etc., was born Munich, 1864. 

3 Felix Mottl, the well-known conductor, born Unter St. Veit, near 
Vienna, 1856; died 1911; conducted the Vienna Wagner Society, and in 
1876 assisted in staging The Ring at Bayreuth. 

4 See Note 2, p. 59. 



22 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

no necessity to go too far, as if Paris were a training school. If 
only these gentlemen would introduce some novelty into their 
programmes it might be interesting, but they do not. They 
offer the same old symphonic stock-in-trade and we shall have 
the usual demonstrations of the different methods of conducting 
Beethoven's symphonies. Some of them hurry the symphonies, 
others drag them; and the greatest sufferer will be poor old 
Beethoven. Pompous well-informed persons will declare that 
such and such a conductor has the secret of the true tempo; 
anyhow, it makes an excellent subject of conversation. How do 
these people come to be so sure? Have they received word from 
the Beyond? That would be a courtesy from the other world 
which would surprise me very much in Beethoven. If his un- 
happy spirit occasionally wanders into a concert room, surely 
it returns hurriedly to the realms where only the music of the 
spheres is heard! His noble ancestor, Bach, must say to him with 
some severity: 

"My little Ludwig, I see by your somewhat rumpled soul 
that you have again been in disreputable places." 

But perhaps they are not on speaking terms. 

The attraction of the virtuoso for the public is very like that 
of the circus for the crowd. There is always a hope that some- 
thing dangerous may happen: Mr. X may play the violin with 
Mr. Y on his shoulders; or Mr. Z may conclude his piece by 
lifting the piano with his teeth. 1 

X plays Bach's violin concerto in G, as perhaps he alone can 
without seeming to be an interloper; for he has that freedom 
of expression, that unaffected beauty of tone, which are essen- 
tial for its interpretation. 

This is all the more noticeable since the rest of the per- 
formance moves painfully and heavily. It might be said that this 
rigid method of interpretation compels the works of Bach to 
carry the weight of all the ages. 

Yet the beauty of this concerto stands out from among 
the others which appear in Bach's manuscripts; it contains, al- 
most intact, that musical arabesque, or rather that principle of 

1 The original article read: "M. Ysaye may play the violin with M. 
Colonne on his shoulders; or M. Pugno may conclude his piece by lifting 
the piano with his teeth." 



Virtuosos 23 

ornament, which is the basis of all forms of art. The word 
"ornament" has here nothing whatever to do with the meaning 
attached to it in the musical grammars. 

The primitives, Palestrina, 1 Vittoria, 2 Orlando di Lasso 3 
and others, made use of this divine arabesque. They discovered 
the principle in the Gregorian chant; and they strengthened 
the delicate traceries by strong counterpoint. When Bach went 
back to the arabesque he made it more pliant and more fluid; 
and, in spite of the stern discipline which the great composer 
imposed on beauty, there was a freshness and freedom in his 
imaginative development of it which astonishes us to this day. 

In Bach's music it is not the character of the melody that 
stirs us, but rather the tracing of a particular line, often indeed 
of several lines, whose meeting, whether by chance or design, 
makes the appeal. Through this conception of ornament the 
music acquires an almost mechanical precision of appeal to 
which the audience reacts. 

Let no one think that there is anything unnatural or artifi- 
cial in this. It is infinitely more "true" than the wretched 
whimperings and the tentative wailings of lyric drama. Above all, 
the music keeps all its dignity; it never lowers itself by truckling 
to the desire for sentimentality of those of whom it is said that 
"they do so love music"; with greater pride it compels their re- 
spect, if not their worship. 

It is most noticeable that no one was ever known to whistle 
Bach. Such lip service has not been denied to Wagner when 
the doors of the concert rooms are opened and the pampered 
prisoners are released from their padded seats and there is heard 
in the streets the cheerful whistling of the Spring Song* or of 
the opening phrase of the Meister singers. I am well aware that, 
for many people, this is the pinnacle of fame for music. One 
may, however, think otherwise without an excess of abnormality. 

i Giovanni Pierluigi (Palestrina), the celebrated Italian composer of 
church music, born Palestrina, 1524; died 1594. 

2 Tomaso Ludovico da Vittoria, born probably at Airla about 1540, 
died probably at Madrid about 1608; ranked as a composer of church 
music second only to Palestrina. 

3 Orlandus Lassus (di Lasso), born about 1520; died Munich, 1594: 
was the last great composer of the early Netherland School, ranking, as 
far as his Penitential Psalms are concerned, with Palestrina. 

4 The Valkyrie, Act I. 



24 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

I should add that this conception of ornament has vanished 
completely; music has been successfully domesticated. It has 
become a family matter; and when a family does not know what 
to do with a child— since the brilliant profession of engineering 
is beginning to be terribly overcrowded— they have him taught 
music and there is one more mediocrity. If sometimes this or that 
man of genius tries to escape the galling yoke of tradition, care 
is taken to swamp him with ridicule; so the poor man of genius 
elects to die very young, this being the sole performance for 
which he will get an appreciative audience. 



VII The Opera 

Everybody knows our national Opera 
House, at least by repute. I can assure you from painful experi- 
ence that it has not changed. A stranger would take it for a 
railway station and, once inside, would mistake it for a Turkish 
bath. 

They continue to produce curious noises which the people 
who pay call music, but there is no need to believe them im- 
plicitly. 

By special permission and a State subsidy this theatre may 
produce anything; it matters so little what, that elaborately 
luxurious loges a salons have been installed, so-called because 
they are the most convenient places for not hearing anything of 
the music: they are the last salons where conversation still takes 
place. 

By this I do not mean to cast any reflection upon the ability 
of the directors, so sure am I that the best of good intentions 
are shattered against a solid and solemn wall of obstinate official- 
dom, impenetrable by any revealing light. There will never 
be any change short of a revolution, although revolutionaries 
do not always give consideration to such institutions. We might 
hope for a fire, if fire were not too indiscriminating in its effects 
on undoubtedly innocent persons. 

Much however might be done if the busy apathy of the 
place were shaken off. Why have we not long ago been given 



The Opera 25 

the whole of The Ring? In the first place this would have en- 
abled us to get rid of it, and Bayreuth pilgrims could no longer 
bore us with their stories. To produce The M e is ter singers is 
good; Tristan and Isolde is better, for the entrancing spirit of 
Chopin inspires the swirl and passion of the music. 

Without prejudice to our grievances, let us consider how 
far the Opera has served to develop dramatic music in France. 

Much of Reyer 1 has been performed. The reasons of his 
success seem to me peculiar. Some people look at landscapes 
with the indifference of cattle; and the same people listen to 
music with cotton-wool in their ears. 

Saint-Saens composed operas with the impenitence of a 
convinced symphonist. Is that where the future will look for 
the true reasons for continuing to admire him? 

Massenet seems to have been the victim of the fluttering 
fans of his fair hearers, who flirted them so long, to his glory; 
he yearned to reserve for himself the beating of those perfumed 
wings; unfortunately he might as well have tried to tame a cloud 
of butterflies. Perhaps he only lacked patience and under- 
valued silence. His influence on contemporary music is obvious, 
but admitted grudgingly by certain persons who owe much to 
him, though they have the hypocrisy and ingratitude to deny it. 

Among too many stupid ballets Lalo's Namouna 2 is some- 
thing of a masterpiece. Who knows what dumb hatred has 
buried it so deeply that we never hear of it now? What a loss 
to music! 

There has been throughout no attempt at anything really 
new; nothing but a kind of humming of machinery, a con- 
tinual reiteration. It might be said that when music enters the 
Opera it dons a prescribed uniform, like a convict; moreover 
at the Opera music assumes the pompous proportions of the 
building, vying with the well-known great staircase which, 
through an error in the perspective or too much detail, in fact 
appears insignificant. 

Why should not the Opera be administered by a council of 

i See Note 3, p. 6. 

2 Edouard Victor Antonine Lalo, born Lille, 1823; died Paris, 1892. 
Among his best-known works are Le Roi d'Ys, La Symphonie Espagnole 
and Namouna. 



26 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

people too rich to trouble about sound speculations, but likely 
to take pride in having plenty of money for the production of 
great works? It is only a question of judgment and selection. 

Then, why not have a perfectly free and independent di- 
rector, whose business would be, first, to know all about art move- 
ments and, secondly, to ensure in advance a programme of classi- 
cal and carefully-chosen works? When Wagner's operas are given, 
why not invite Richter to conduct the orchestra? I merely take 
this as an example. This would provide an attraction for the 
public, as well as the certainty of a fine performance. I do not 
wish to labour the point, but what I suggest is no innovation, 
since such a scheme is, in effect, the principle of Covent Garden, 
where the performances are in every respect excellent. It is la- 
mentable that we cannot do better, if not equally well, at the 
Opera. Even if it be a question of money I refuse to agree. 

To sum up, the important thing is to perform a great deal 
of music and not to yield to the wilful indifference of the public. 

Certain artists have a serious responsibility for this indiff- 
erence; they know how to strive just long enough to gain a foot- 
ing in the musical marketplace, but the sale of their goods once 
assured they retire promptly, seeming to apologise to the public 
for the trouble it has taken to admit them. Resolutely turning 
their backs on their youth they are lulled to sleep by success. 
They are never able to rise to a fame happily reserved for men 
whose lives, consecrated to the search for a world of ever-renewed 
sensations and forms, have ended in the joyous confidence of a 
noble task accomplished. Such men have obtained what may be 
termed a "last-night" success— if "success" be not too mean a 
word for what is glory. I am not so bold as to demand that the 
Opera should ever assist the latter, but it need not exclusively 
support the former. My aim has been to prove that the wrongs 
are not all on one side. 



VIII Nikisch 

On Sunday the overpowering glare of 
the sun seemed to make it unthinkable to listen to music. The 



Nikisch 27 

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nikisch, 1 took 
the opportunity of giving its first concert. I hope that God will 
forgive my having gone back on my resolutions and that others 
more fortunate paid homage to the grass generously spread by 
Him for the reception of sausage skins and the logical develop- 
ment of idylls. 

All the well-known and attentive ears that Paris boasts were 
there, and particularly the dear wonderful ladies! This is the 
best kind of audience for any one who knows how to make use 
of it. Almost all that is required to rouse its enthusiasm is a 
graceful attitude or a romantically waved lock of hair. 

Nikisch has the pose and the lock, but fortunately he has 
more solid qualities too. Moreover, he has his orchestra mar- 
vellously in hand and one seems to be in the presence of men 
whose sole aim is the serious production of music: for they are 
staid and unaffected like the figures in a primitive fresco— quite 
a touching novelty. 

Nikisch is an unique virtuoso, so much so that his virtuosity 
seems to make him forget the claims of good taste! I would take 
as an example his performance of the Tannhduser overture, in 
which he forces the trombones to a portamento suitable at best 
to the stout lady responsible for the sentimental ditties at the 
Casino de Suresnes and in which he stresses the horns at points 
where there is no particular reason for bringing them into 
prominence. These are effects without any appreciable causes 
and are amazing in a musician as experienced as Nikisch shows 
himself at all other times. At an earlier period he had proved 
his unique gifts in Richard Strauss' The Merry Pranks of Till 
Eulenspiegel. This piece might almost be called, "An hour of 
original music in a lunatic asylum." The clarinets leap in frenzied 
curves, the trumpets everlastingly choke and the horns, forestall- 
ing a latent sneeze, hasten to rejoin: "God bless you!" while a 
big drum goes boom! boom! apparently emphasizing the antics 
of the clowns. One wants either to shout with laughter or to 
shriek with pain. Then follows the startling discovery that every- 
thing is in the right place; for, if the double-basses blew down 
their bows and the trombones fiddled on their brass tubes with 

l Arthur Nikisch, one of the foremost of the world's conductors, born 
1855, on Baron Sina's estate in Hungary; died 1922. 



28 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

an imaginary bow, or if Nikisch perched himself on the knee 
of a programme seller, it would not be in the least surprising. 
Meanwhile there is no gainsaying the fact that genius is shown 
at times in this work, above all in the amazing orchestral assur- 
ance, the mad rhythm that sweeps us along from beginning 
to end and forces us to share in all the hero's merry pranks. 
Nikisch conducted this ordered tumult with astounding coolness 
and the ovation which greeted both his orchestra and himself 
was eminently justified. 

During the performance of Schubert's Unfinished Sym- 
phony 1 a flock of sparrows fluttered to the windows of the Cirque 2 
and twittered pleasantly. Nikisch had the grace not to demand 
the expulsion of these impertinent melomaniacs, who were 
probably drunk with the ether or perhaps were merely innocent 
critics of a symphony which cannot decide once and for all 
to remain unfinished. 



IX Massenet 

I should like to try to give, not a por- 
trait of Massenet, 3 but rather some indication of the mental 
attitude he aimed at conveying through his music; besides, the 
incidents or foibles that constitute the life of a man must be 
posthumous to have genuine interest. 

Music was never for Massenet the cosmic voice heard by 
Bach and Beethoven: to him it was rather a delightful avocation. 

Look at the long list of his works. You will note a constant 
preoccupation which directs his advance like the hand of fate. 
It makes him rediscover in his last opera, Griselidis, some of the 
escapades of one of his youthful works, Eve. Is this not due to 
a kind of mysterious and irresistible fate which explains Mas- 
senet's untiring curiosity in seeking in music the data for the 
history of the feminine soul? Here are all or nearly all the 

1 The eighth of Schubert's ten Symphonies in B minor, the two 
movements of which are among his posthumous works. 

2 Le Cirque d'Ete, where the Lamoureux Concerts take place. See 
Note 1, p. 12. 

3 See Note 2, p. 10. 



Massenet 29 

women's faces which have been the stuff of so many dreams! 
The smile of a Manon in a panniered gown is born again on 
the lips of a modern Sappho, again to make men weep! The 
knife of the woman of Navarre matches the pistol of the con- 
scienceless Charlotte. (Cf. Werther.) 

On the other hand, we know how vibrant his music is with 
thrills, transports and would-be eternal embraces. The harmonies 
are like enlacing arms, the melodies are the necks we kiss; 
we gaze into women's eyes to learn at any cost what lies behind. 
Philosophers and robust people assert that nothing lies behind; 
but that this does not entirely exclude a contrary opinion the 
example of Massenet proves, at least in melody; to this pre- 
occupation moreover he owes the position he holds in contem- 
porary art— which we secretly envy him, a fact that makes it 
probable that it is not to be despised. 

Fortune, being a woman, certainly ought to treat Mas- 
senet kindly and even on occasions to be unfaithful to him; and 
in this she has not failed. At one time, owing to his great success, 
it was correct to imitate his melodious fancies; then, suddenly, 
those who had so calmly plagiarised him turned violently against 
him. 

He was reproached with having shown excessive sympathy 
for Mascagni and not enough worship of Wagner. This re- 
proach is as false as it is inadmissible. Massenet continued hero- 
ically to court the approbation of his feminine admirers as 
before. I confess I cannot understand why it is any better to 
please old cosmopolitan Wagnerian ladies than scented young 
ones, even though they do not play the piano very well. In 
short, he was right. He can only seriously be reproached with 
his infidelities to Manon. He had discovered a suitable form for 
his flirtatious inclinations; and he should not have tried to 
impose them on the Opera. No one flirts at the Opera; for 
there they shriek unintelligible words at the top of their voices 
and if any vows are exchanged it is with the approval of the 
trombones. Logically, the finer shades of sentiment must be lost 
in the resulting din. Massenet surely would have been wiser to 
go on expressing his genius in delicate colours and whispering 
melodies and in light airy structures. The refinements of art 
would not thereby have been excluded; they would have been 



30 Debussy: Monsieur Crocks 

more exquisite, that is all. There is no lack, however, of musi- 
cians who grasp music with outstretched arms while the trumpets 
blare. Why increase the number uselessly? And why encourage 
an increase of the taste for tedious music which comes to us 
from the neo-Wagnerians and which might well favour us by 
returning to the country of its origin? 

Massenet, by reason of his unique gifts and his facility, 
might have opposed considerable influence to that deplorable 
movement. It is not always best to do in Rome as the Romans 
do: a piece of advice which I think the least subtle of his fair 
hearers might have given him. 

Massenet was the most truly loved of all contemporary musi- 
cians. It is, indeed, to that very love that he owes the unique 
standing which he still has in the musical world. 

His brethren could not readily forgive this power of pleasing 
which, strictly speaking, is a gift. It must be admitted that this 
gift is not indispensable, particularly in art; to take but one 
example, Bach never "pleased" in the sense of the word as 
applied to Massenet. Has one ever heard of young milliners 
humming The Passion according to St. Matthew? I do not 
think so. But everyone knows that they wake in the morning and 
sing Manon or Werther. Make no mistake: this is a delightful 
kind of fame, the secret envy of many of those great purists, 
who can only warm their hands at the somewhat pallid flame 
of the approbation of the elect. 

Massenet amply succeeded in what he set out to do, a fact 
which caused some to believe that they were taking their re- 
venge by calling him— sotto voce— Paul Delmet's 1 best pupil. 
That is merely a joke in the worst possible taste. He has been 
much imitated abroad as well as at home. 

To endeavour to overthrow those whom they imitate is 
the first principle of wisdom with certain artists, who call such 
reprehensible methods the struggle for art. This hackneyed 
phrase is somewhat disingenuous and has, moreover, the defect 
of likening art to a kind of sport. 

In art the struggle is more often against oneself alone 
and victories so achieved are perhaps the finest. By a curious 
irony, however, we are afraid of a victory over ourselves, and 

i A writer of ballad music, born and died Paris, 1862-1904. 



Open-air Music 31 

it seems preferable to be quietly merged in the public or to 
imitate our friends, which amounts to the same thing. 

In the time of Napoleon, every French mother hoped that 
her son would be another Napoleon. The game of war frustrated 
most of those dreams. Besides, there are such things as unique 
destinies. Such, in its own class, is the destiny of Massenet. 



X Open-air Music 

It is certain that in France there is no 
love left to-day for street-organs. It is only once a year at 
beflagged celebrations of the Fourteenth of July, or in vacant 
lots more suited to the mutterings of hooligans than to the fugi- 
tive dreams of melomaniacs, that they still venture to grind out 
melancholy strains from their husky pipes. 

Ought we to regret this fact and conclude that there is a 
decline in the standard of music in France today? My business 
is neither to make any such assertion nor to blame anyone. 

Nevertheless, M. Gavioli, the famous maker of these instru- 
ments, does not seem quite to have done his duty. Is it really 
enough to have recorded during recent years the Cavalleria Rus- 
ticana Intermezzo, the Valse Bleue and a few other masterpieces? 
Why so limited a programme? Might he not have paid some 
attention to the need for popularity of our notable contem- 
poraries? Is there not a mass of music now mouldering away in 
the programmes of Sunday concerts, the revival of which on 
the street-organ would be delightful, if M. Gavioli were not so 
hopelessly insensible to the demands of his age? Be modern, sir, 
we implore you! Do not allow negro kings to monopolise the 
charms of a perfect instrument. Know that the Shah of Persia 
owns an electric organ which plays the Prelude to Parsifal with 
the utmost verisimilitude. If you think that these performances 
in the harems do Wagner justice, you are wrong. Despite his 
taste for the mysterious, this particular example goes a little too 
far, you will admit. Besides, did he not declare again and again 
that he could only be understood in France? May we hope that 
you will eventually see where your duty lies? The Opera does 



32 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

not shrink from playing Pagliacci; shrink then no longer from 
making street-organs worthy to perform The Ring. 

As a matter of fact the apparent futility of these reflections 
arises because people only worry about the banality of things; 
they deplore them, but never remedy them. To those who find 
this defence of the street-organ ridiculous, the answer is that 
we are not referring to the pleasures of the dilettante, but to the 
duty of dealing with the mediocrity of the herd mind. 

Without defending the frequenters of cafes-concerts any 
more than those of the Concerts Lamoureux, we must admit 
that they are both right in their special planes. There are others 
who can only be moved by open-air music, which, as performed 
in these days, is certainly the best imaginable educator of me- 
diocrity. 

In short, why have the amenities of squares and promenades 
remained the monopoly of military bands? I know quite well 
that there is the music of the Republican Guard, 1 but that is 
on a higher plane— it is practically an instrument of diplomacy. 

I should like to imagine simpler entertainments in greater 
harmony with natural scenery. Is not military music an anodyne 
for the rigours of the march and a source of joy in the streets? 
It sums up the patriotism that thrills the hearts of each one of 
us; it is the link between the little pastry-cook with his dreams 
and the old gentleman who thinks of Alsace-Lorraine and never 
speaks of it. Never would the idea occur to anyone to rob that 
music of its noble privilege; but, among the trees, it is like 
the strident notes of some huge gramophone. 

We can imagine a great orchestra, further strengthened by 
human voices— not a choral society, thank you! Here is the germ 
of a kind of music composed especially for the open air, on broad 
lines, with bold vocal and instrumental effects, which would 
sport and skim among the tree-tops in the sunshine and fresh 
air. Harmonies which would seem out of place in an enclosed 
concert room would be in their true environment here. One 
might even discover the means of escape from the fads about 
form and the arbitrarily fixed tone values which so awkwardly 
encumber music. 

I should add that I do not suggest the "wholesale" but 

1 The Garde republicaine, a section of the Gendarmerie. This famous 
French military band visited England a few years ago. 



Recollections 33 

the "grand" plan; I do not suggest plaguing the echoes to repeat 
great masses of sound, but using them to prolong an harmonic 
dream in the soul of the crowd. The murmuring of the breeze 
would be mystically mingled with the rustling of the leaves 
and the scent of the flowers, since music can unite all of 
them in a harmony so completely natural that it seems to be- 
come one with them. The tall peaceful trees would be like the 
pipes of a great organ, and would lend their branches to clusters 
of children, who would be taught the charming rounds of long 
ago, to which the feeble tunes which disgrace the towns and 
gardens of to-day are such poor successors. 

We might even rediscover that counterpoint, which we have 
made an academic study, yet which, in the hands of the old mas- 
ters of the French Renaissance, had something of laughter. 

I confess that if this happened I could bear the banishment 
of the street-organ without a tear; but I fear that music will 
continue to suggest closed windows. 



XI Recollections 

The recent foggy weather has made me 
think of London and of the charming play, A Midsummer 
Night's Dream, whose true and more poetic title would be A 
Dream of St. John's Eve, the shortest night of the year. A warm 
night, radiant with stars whose short-lived enchantment lies 
between a lingering twilight and an impatient dawn. A dream 
night whose span is but a single dream. Nor was Oberon, the 
fairy king, saved from a touch of gracious jealousy by his cares 
as master of the midnight revels; he even found time to test the 
too-frail virtue of Titania with the aid of Puck, or Robin Good- 
fellow, that merry reveller of the night, that mischievous rascal, 
that sweet player of pranks, whose aid one could invoke by 
calling him "Hobgoblin and sweet Puck." 

But I am especially reminded of a man, now nearly for- 
gotten, at least in the theatre. I saw him trudging along the 
London streets, his body consumed by the vivid light that was in 
him and in his face that radiance peculiar to those who have 
known beauty. On he went, sustained by the feverish desire 



34 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

to postpone death until he had heard that posthumous work 
born of the fiery pangs of his ebbing life. By what miracle did 
he revive in it that wild passion, that rhythm of romance, which 
had won such immediate recognition for his youthful genius? 
No one will ever know. 

His work had a sort of dreamy melancholy, characteristic 
of his time, though never marred by the crude German moon- 
shine in which nearly all his contemporaries were bathed. 

He was perhaps the first to face the problem of establishing 
the due relationship of the infinite spirit of nature to the finite 
spirit of the individual. At all events he utilised the legend, feel- 
ing that thus music would find its natural course. For music, and 
music alone, has the power of evoking at will imaginary scenes 
—that real yet elusive world which gives birth in secret to the 
mystic poetry of the night and the thousand nameless sounds 
of the leaves caressed by the moonlight. 

He was master of every known means of interpreting the 
fantastic through music. Even in our own days, rich as they are 
in the science of orchestration, few have surpassed him. If he 
attached too much importance to the flourish and the coloratura 
we must not forget that he married a singer. Probably he 
adored her. It is a sentimental reason, yet none the worse for 
that; particularly so because his taste for tying true lovers' knots 
with graceful semi-quavers did not hinder him time and again 
from using simple and beautiful language free from useless 
verbiage. This man— have you not all recognized him? was 
Charles-Marie Weber. 1 The opera, the final effort of his genius, 
was Oberon, first performed in London. You see I had excellent 
reasons for thinking of that city. 

Some years earlier he had succeeded in getting the Freischiltz 
produced at Berlin, and afterwards Euryanthe. That is the reason 
for his becoming the father of that romantic school to which 
we owe Berlioz, 2 who is so enamoured of the romance of colour 

i Caroline Brandt, a young actress and singer, married Karl Maria 
Friedrich Ernst von Weber in 1817; the famous composer was born Entin, 
Oldenburg, in 1786~ and died London, 1826. 

2 Hector Berlioz, born Cote-Saint-Andre, Isere, 1803; died Paris, 1869; 
developed the resources of the orchestra to an enormous extent, and was 
the first to employ large masses of musicians and singers to produce big 
tonal effects. Among his best-known works are Benvenuto Cellini and La 
Damnation de Faust. 



Rameau 35 

that he sometimes forgets music, Wagner, the great master sym- 
bolist, and, nearer to our own time, Richard Strauss, 1 whose 
imagination seems created for romanticism. Weber may be 
proud of such descendants and the glory of the offspring of 
his genius may console him for the fact that scarcely anything but 
the overtures of the above works are ever performed. 



XII Rameau 

Charles Bordes 2 is famous throughout 
the entire world for the best of all possible reasons. In the first 
place he is an accomplished musician in every sense of the word; 
in the second place he has the inspiration of those fiery mis- 
sionaries of old times whose spirit shone out in the face of diffi- 
culties. It is admittedly less dangerous to preach Palestrina to 
the crowds than the Gospel to savages; yet one may meet with 
the same hostility— the difference is only in the penalty: in the 
one case it is scalping, in the other yawning. 

Charles Bordes, appointed choir-master at Saint Gervais 
de Paris, inaugurated the series of "Holy Weeks of Saint Ger- 
vais," the success of which was so considerable as to alarm the 
church dignitaries who thought, quite wrongly, that it distracted 
the attention of the faithful. He who reigns in heaven above, 
however, gave no sign of being shocked. 

This caused Bordes to found the Association des Chant eurs 
de Saint Gervais for performing old choral music. From that 
moment dates his incessant craving for propaganda, for there 
is no town in which this society has not preached its gospel. 
It would not be surprising if one day Bordes were to lead his 
associates to Sirius or Aldebaran. 

He was also the promoter of the Schola Cantorum, originally 

i See Note 2, p. 21. 

2 Charles Bordes, born Vouvray-sur-Loire, 1863; died 1909; founded 
the now world-famous choir, Les Chanteurs de St. Gervais in 1890 while 
organist at the Paris church of that name. In 1894 he founded with Guil- 
mant and d'Indy the Schola Cantorum, whose object was to raise the 
standard of music in French churches by a return to plain song, the 
old masters, etc. 



36 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

founded for the restoration of church music, but subsequently 
extending its programme until it became a kind of musical 
High School. 

It was there that we heard recently the first two acts of 
Castor and Pollux. Rameau 1 to many people is the author of 
nothing but the celebrated Rigaudon from Dardanus. 

Here is an excellent example of the peculiar temperament 
of the French which impels them to adopt art formulas as eagerly 
as they adopt fashions in clothes which bear no relation to their 
native genius. 

Gluck's 2 influence on French music is recognized, an in- 
fluence only possible through the intervention of the Dauphine, 
Marie-Antoinette, an Austrian— a curious analogy to the case 
of Wagner, who owed the production of Tannhauser in Paris 
to the influence of Mme. de Metternich, also an Austrian. Yet 
Gluck's genius is deeply rooted in the work of Rameau. Castor 
and Pollux is an epitome of preliminary sketches developed 
later by Gluck. Considerable evidence can be adduced for the 
statement that Gluck was only able to supplant Rameau on the 
French stage by assimilating Rameau's finest creations and mak- 
ing them his own. To what does the Gluck tradition owe its 
survival? The false and pompous treatment of recitative is 
enough, but there is also his habit of rudely interrupting the 
action, as, for example, where Orpheus, having lost his Eurydice, 
sings a song which does not precisely indicate a very mournful 
state of mind. But because it is Gluck we bend the knee. Rameau 
need only have changed his nationality— that was his mistake. 

We have, however, in Rameau's work a pure French tradi- 
tion full of charming and tender delicacy, well balanced, strictly 
declamatory in recitative and without any affection of German 
profundity or over-emphasis or impatient explanation, as if 
to say: "You are a collection of utter idiots who understand 

1 Jean Philippe Rameau, born Dijon, 1683, died 1768; wrote a number 
of works on the theory of music; among his best-known compositions are 
Hippolyte et Aricie, Castor et Pollux, Le Temple de la Gloire. 

2 Christoph Willibald von Gluck, born Weidenwang in the Upper 
Palatinate, 1714, died Vienna, 1787; revolutionised the opera by making 
the music support the poetry without interrupting the action. Among 
his best-known works are the operas Alceste, Iphigenie en Aulide, Orphee 
et Eurydice, Iphigenie en Tauride. 



Rameau 37 

nothing unless you are first compelled to believe that the moon 
is made of green cheese." We may, however, regret that French 
music should so long have followed a course treacherously lead- 
ing it away from that clarity of expression, that terse and con- 
densed form, which is the peculiar and significant quality of 
the French genius. I know quite well the theory of free trade 
in art and its valuable results; but this does not excuse us from 
having so completely forgotten the tradition that permeates 
Rameau's work, a tradition filled with far-reaching, almost un- 
paralleled discoveries. 

To return to Castor and Pollux. The scene is the burial- 
place of the Kings of Sparta. After an overture, only required 
to allow time for the silken folds of the panniered dresses to 
be spread out, the wailing voices of a chorus solemnising the 
obsequies of Castor are heard. At once we breathe an atmos- 
phere of tragedy which yet remains human. We are not so much 
conscious of the peplum and of the helmet as of people weep- 
ing as we might weep ourselves. Then Talai'ra, Castor's love, 
enters and utters the sweetest, most touching lament that ever 
sprang from a loving heart. Pollux appears at the head of his 
warriors, who have avenged the outrage on Castor. Then the 
chorus and a martial ballet superb in its forceful rhythm, slashed 
now and again with a blare of trumpets, end the first act. 

The second act introduces us to the fore-court of Jupiter's 
temple, where all is prepared for a sacrifice; and this is a sheer 
marvel; I wish I could describe it in its entirety. The aria of 
Pollux, "Nature, love, who share my fate," has so personal a 
touch, such freshness of construction, that time and space vanish, 
and Rameau seems to be a contemporary to whom we render our 
homage on leaving. How moving it is! 

Then follows the scene in which Pollux and Talai'ra sacri- 
fice their great love to the will of the gods; the entrance of 
Jupiter's High Priest; the appearance of Jupiter himself seated 
on a throne of glory, so royally gentle and compassionate of 
the human sorrow of Pollux, a poor mortal whom he, the chief 
6f the gods, could crush at will— as I said, it ought to be described 
in its entirety. 

And then the last scene of the act. Hebe leads in the dance 
the Celestial Pleasures whose hands are filled with garlands for 



38 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

the capture of Pollux. Jupiter has ordained the enchantments 
of this scene in order to wean Pollux from his desire for death. 
Never before has so calm and soothing an appeal to the senses 
been so perfectly rendered, so luminous is its play in the super- 
natural atmosphere that all the Spartan strength of Pollux is 
needed to escape its spell and remember Castor. I myself had 
forgotten him for the moment. 

In conclusion we must not fail to mention the exquisite 
grace of the music, a grace which never descends to affectation 
or to meritricious beauty. Has such music been ousted by a 
taste for "the pretty," or by our preference for Byzantine crafts- 
manship? 



XIII Beethoven 

Last Sunday was an irresistibly beautiful 
day. The first sunshine of spring seemed to preclude all idea 
of listening to music; it was weather to bring the swallows back 
again. 

Weingartner 1 seized the opportunity to conduct the orchestra 
of the Concerts Lamoureux. 2 No one is perfect! 

He first conducted the Pastoral Symphony 3 with the care 
of a conscientious gardener. He tidied it so neatly as to produce 
the illusion of a meticulously finished landscape in which the 
gently undulating hills are made of plush at ten francs the yard 
and the foliage is crimped with curling-tongs. 

The popularity of the Pastoral Symphony is due to the 
widespread misunderstanding that exists between Man and 
Nature. Consider the scene on the banks of the stream: a stream 
to which it appears the oxen come to drink, so at least the 
bassoons would have us suppose; to say nothing of the wooden 
nightingale and the Swiss cuckoo-clock, more representative of 
the artistry of M. de Vaucanson 4 than of genuine Nature. It is 

i See Note 1, p. 21. 

2 See Note 1, p. 12. 

3 Beethoven's 6th Symphony in F major, op. 68. 

4 Jacques de Vaucanson, 1709-1782, a mechanician of Grenoble; his 
automata The Duck and The Flute Player are famous. 



Beethoven 39 

unnecessarily imitative and the interpretation is entirely arbi- 
trary. 

How much more profound an interpretation of the beauty 
of a landscape do we find in other passages in the great Master, 
because, instead of an exact imitation, there is an emotional in- 
terpretation of what is invisible in Nature. Can the mystery of 
a forest be expressed by measuring the height of the trees? Is 
it not rather its fathomless depths that stir the imagination? 

In this symphony Beethoven inaugurates an epoch when 
Nature was seen only through the pages of books. This is proved 
by the storm, a part of this same symphony, where the terror of 
man and Nature is draped in the folds of the cloak of romanti- 
cism amid the rumblings of rather disarming thunder. 

It would be absurd to imagine that I am wanting in respect 
for Beethoven; yet a musician of his genius may be deceived 
more completely than another. No man is bound to write nothing 
but masterpieces; and, if the Pastoral Symphony is so regarded, 
the expression must be weakened as a description of the other 
symphonies. That is all I mean. 

Then Weingartner conducted an orchestral fantasy by 
Chevillard 1 ; in which the most extraordinary orchestration lends 
itself to a highly personal method of developing his ideas. A 
gentleman who was extremely fond of music furiously ex- 
pressed his dislike of the fantasy by whistling on a key. This 
was excessively stupid. Could anyone tell whether the said 
gentleman was criticising Weingartner's manner of conducting 
or the composer's music? One reason is that the key is not an 
instrument of warfare, but a domestic article. Monsieur Croche 
always preferred the butcher-boys' elegant method of whistling 
with their fingers: it is louder. Perhaps the gentleman is still 
young enough to learn this art! 

Weingartner recovered ground by conducting Liszt's Mazeppa 
magnificently. This symphonic poem is full of the worst 
faults, occasionally descending even to the commonplace; yet 
the stormy passion that rages throughout captures us at last so 
completely that we are content to accept it without further 
reasoning. We may affect an air of contempt on leaving, because 
that is pleasant— though it is sheer hypocrisy. The undeniable 

l See Note 1, p. 12. 



40 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

beauty of Liszt's work arises, I believe, from the fact that his love 
of music excluded every other kind of emotion. If sometimes 
he gets on easy terms with it and frankly takes it on his knee, 
this surely is no worse than the stilted manner of those who 
behave as though they were being introduced to it for the first 
time; very polite, but rather dull. Liszt's genius is often dis- 
ordered and feverish, but that is better than rigid perfection, 
even in white gloves. 

Weingartner's personal appearance suggests at the first 
glance a new knife. His gestures have a kind of angular grace; 
then suddenly the imperious movement of his arms seems to 
compel the trombones to bellow and to drive the cymbals to 
frenzy. It is most impressive and verges on the miraculous; the 
enthusiasm of the audience knows no bounds. 



XIV The People's Theatre 

For some time now there has been a 
widespread movement for developing in the soul of the people 
a taste for the arts in general and for music in particular. I 
quote as examples the Conservatoire de Mimi Pinson, 1 where 
Gustave Charpentier practises the theories dear to his youthful 
genius. This enables him to give a taste for freedom in art as 
well as in life to girls whose aesthetic outlook has hitherto 
been bounded on the north by Delmet 2 and on the south by 
Decourcelle. 3 Now they know the names of Gluck and Bruneau 4 ; 
and their pretty tapering fingers, so skilled in tying bows, caress 
Lyon's chromatic harp. 5 They will certainly grow into charming 

i Gustave Charpentier, born Dieuze, 1860; best known as the com- 
poser of the opera Louise. In 1900 he founded the Conservatoire populaire 
de Mimi Pinson to give free courses in popular music and classical dancing. 

2 See Note p. 30. 

3 Adrien Decourcelle, the dramatic writer, born Paris, 1821; died 
Etretat, 1892; wrote the famous drama Jenny I'Ouvriere. 

4 Louis Charles Bonaventure Alfred Bruneau; born Paris, 1857; com- 
posed a number of operas to libretti by Zola. 

5 The chromatic harp of Pleyel improved and simplified by Gustave 
Lyon in 1903. 



The People's Theatre 41 

young women instead of the silly nonentities they were otherwise 
likely to become. 

The fame of Les Noces de Jeanette 1 is perishing too; and as 
for La Dame Blanche, 2 she is at death's door. 
Chevaliers felons et mechants 
Qui tramez complots malfaisants . . . 
you need no longer trouble yourselves to guard against that old 
lady. I pass over the songs where Mignon laments her native 
land and other young persons their "faded posies"; for they are 
in the coolest of thy lakes, O Norway! 3 

Then we have the Thedtre-roulotte 4 of Catulle Mendes, 
a delightful idea, also what is known as Thirty Years of the 
Stage, immortalised by A. Bernheim, who carries the solemnity 
of the Comedie Francaise into the most incongruous surround- 
ings. 

In my humble way I have assisted in endeavours to spread 
art among the people; and I confess that I have only the memory 
of deep depression. Usually those who make themselves respon- 
sible for these attempts assume a sort of patronising goodwill 
of which the poor victims perfectly appreciate the spuriousness 
and affectation. They certainly make up their minds to laugh 
or cry to order. In any case it is not genuine. An instinctive feel- 
ing of envy hovers vaguely over this vision of luxury imported 

i Light opera composed by Victor Masse in 1853; the libretto is by 
Barbier and Carre. 

2 Light opera composed by Boieldieu in 1825; the libretto is by Scribe. 
The quotation "Chevaliers felons," etc., is from this work. 

3 Reference would appear to be made here to Grieg. 

4 In 1887 M. Ritt, director of the Opera at Paris, proposed to the 
Minister of Fine Arts a scheme for the formation of a Popular Theatre, 
but owing to lack of funds his project was never realized. Adrien Bernheim, 
born 1861, was General Inspector and Government Commissioner of the 
subsidised theatres. He founded in 1902 l'CEuvre Francaise des Trente Ans 
de Theatre, which was a fund to help all those directly or indirectly 
connected with the theatre who after thirty years of work were ill or in 
want. The fund was formed from the proceeds of a series of dramatic 
and operatic performances given in the suburban theatres by the com- 
panies of the large subsidised theatres. Bernheim hoped by these means 
to lay the foundations of a Popular Theatre, as he was convinced it was 
the most workable form it could take; he considered Catulle Mendes' idea 
of a thedtre-roulotte, or caravan theatre, entirely impracticable. Bernheim's 
project was in fact recognized in the French Chamber shortly after its 
inception as the basis of a Popular Theatre. 



42 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

for a moment into their dismal lives; the women appraise the 
frocks with forced smiles; the men make comparisons, feel dis- 
contented and dream of impossible joys; others regret their 
sixpences, and all go home sadly to eat their soup which is 
sure to be spoiled that night— flavoured just a little, I think, 
with tears. 

I can well appreciate the good motives underlying these 
social efforts and inspired enthusiasms. Nothing is more exciting 
than to act the part of a little Buddha with an egg and two glasses 
of water a day and to give all else to the poor; to indulge in 
endless reveries on the origin of the universe and the all-per- 
vading godhead, hotchpotches of natura naturans and a delicious 
confusion of the Ego and the Non-Ego and its reabsorption 
into the Universal Soul. It is all very pretty and useful in 
conversation; but unhappily it has not an ounce of practical 
value and sometimes even leads to dangerous results. 

If it is really a good thing to provide performances for the 
people, there should be a definite idea as to the character of 
such performances. Perhaps it would be best to revive the ancient 
games of the Roman imperial circus. We have our Zoological 
Gardens which would feel bound to lend their finest inmates; 
the old lions who yawn from the sheer boredom of gazing at 
everlasting soldier boys and nurse maids, would at once recover 
their natural ferocity. Would it be more difficult to find art 
enthusiasts devoted enough to be the victims? After all, one never 
knows. If the price is high enough— 

But I am afraid we must give that up and return to the 
People's Theatre. All needs are supposed to have been met by 
the production of the old repertory plays or antique dramas 
breathless with romanticism. 

That is not a very brilliant effort! What we must discover, 
it seems to me, is a form of art, suited both in its essence and in 
its staging to the greatest possible number. I do not here pre- 
tend to be axiomatic, but why not remember the Greeks? 

Do we not find in Euripides, Sophocles and ^Eschylus the 
mighty impulses of humanity simply portrayed with such natural 
tragedy of effects that they are at once intelligible to the least 
enlightened and to the least cultured minds? For example, 



The People's Theatre 43 

conceive of a performance of the Agamemnon of ^Eschylus which 
has been so admirably translated by Paul Claudel. 1 

Would not this be nearer to the heart of the people than 
all the psychological or fashionable subtleties of our present-day 
repertory? When it is a question of making people forget their 
domestic cares, nothing can be too sublime; if the aim be to 
snatch them away from life, to give them exact interpretations 
of it, however excellent, must be harmful. 

This brings me to mention the People's Opera, a recent 
scheme, the realisation of which presents the most serious diffi- 
culties. At a pinch one might discover a comic actor; the old 
Free Theatre affords a striking example of this; but as yet we 
have not gone far enough with the science of suggestion to com- 
pel the first passer-by to play the double-bass. Whether it seems 
so or not, this little fact is extremely important. An opera needs 
an orchestra and where shall we find it? Singers are necessary and 
a chorus and so on. What shall be performed? Works from the 
old-fashioned repertory, as usual? Something like La Juive 2 
or a musty Muette de Portici? 3 

If for the moment we abandon the belief in a voyage 
to Utopia, still there is a method of settling the matter by com- 
bining the People's Theatre with the People's Opera— in fact, 
as I wrote above, by reverting to the dramatic methods of the 
ancient Greeks. Let us rediscover Tragedy, strengthening its 
primitive musical setting by means of the infinite resources of 
the modern orchestra and a chorus of innumerable voices; let 
us remember at the same time how effective is the combination 
of pantomime and dance accompanied by the fullest possible 
development of lighting required for a vast audience. We could 
glean valuable hints for this from the entertainments arranged 
by the Javanese princes, where the fascination of speech without 
words, that is to say of pantomime, almost attains perfection, 
since it is rendered by action and not by formulas. The trouble 
about our theatre is that we have tried to confine it to the in- 
tellectual element alone. 



i Paul Claudel, diplomatist and literary man, born Villeneuve-sur- 
Feu, 1868. 

2 Opera by Halevy, 1835, libretto by Scribe. 

3 Opera by Auber, 1828, libretto by Scribe and Delavigne. 



44 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

Such a change would be so successful that we should find 
it impossible to bear anything else. Paris would become a centre 
to which pilgrims in search of beauty would flock from all over 
the world. To sum up, we must have large ideas. No more petty 
undertakings based on disingenuous theorising! Since it is ab- 
solutely necessary to build a special theatre, as no existing one 
would be suitable, let the Municipal Council and the State try 
to come to terms— they need not make a habit of it. 

It must not be a theatre in which the gilding catches the 
eye unpleasantly, but a bright, cheerful house, attractive to 
everyone. I need not emphasise the necessity for completely free 
seats; if necessary let a loan be raised. There could never be 
one for a more lofty or strictly patriotic object. 

We must never forget that there is a law of beauty! In spite 
of isolated protests we seem to be in danger of forgetting it. 
The thousand-headed monster mediocrity has so many worship- 
pers in the modern artistic associations. 



XV Richard Strauss 

Richard Strauss, 1 who recently con- 
ducted the orchestra at the Concerts Lamoureux , is no relation to 
The Blue Danube: 2 he was born at Munich in 1864, where his 
father was a musician in the Royal Household. He is practically 
the only original composer in modern Germany; his remarkable 
technique in the art of handling an orchestra allies him to Liszt, 
while his desire to found his music on literature allies him to 
Berlioz; witness the titles of his symphonic poems, Don Quixote, 
Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Merry Pranks of Till Eulenspiegel. 
As a matter of fact the art of Richard Strauss is not invariably 
so exclusively interpretative; but he undoubtedly thinks in col- 
our-pictures and he seems to draw the line of his ideas by 
means of the orchestra. This is no commonplace method and 
few people have adopted it. Richard Strauss, moreover, develops 

i See Note 2, p. 21. 

2 The famous waltz An der schonen blauen Donau, written by the 
famous composer and conductor of dance music, Johann Strauss, born 
Vienna, 1825, died 1899. 



Richard Strauss 45 

it along peculiarly personal lines; it is no longer the rigid and 
architectural method of Bach or Beethoven, but the working 
out of a scheme of rhythmic colours; he combines with the 
utmost assurance the most wildly discordant notes, quite regard- 
less of their possibly painful effect as long as they satisfy his 
demand that they should live. 

All these characteristics reach a pitch of frenzy in the 
Heldenleben, the symphonic poem of which Richard Strauss 
here gave the second performance in Paris. One may not care for 
certain experiments which border on the commonplace or for a 
kind of tortured Italianism; but after a minute or two one is 
captured first by the tremendous versatility of his orchestration, 
then by the frenzied energy which carries one with him for as 
long as he chooses; the hearer is no longer master of his emo- 
tions, he does not even notice that this symphonic poem 
exceeds the limits that our patience usually allows to such 
compositions. 

Once again, it is a book of pictures, or even a cinemato- 
graph. But one must admit that the man who composed such 
a work at so continuously high a pressure is very nearly a genius. 

He began by giving Italy, a symphonic fantasy in four parts— 
an early work, I believe— where the future originality of Strauss 
is already discernible. The elaboration seemed to me a trifle 
long and stereotyped. But the third part, In the Bay of Sorrento, 
is very beautiful in colour. Then came a love scene from Feuers- 
not, his last opera. This suffered considerably through being 
detached from its context; and, since the programme gave no 
explanation, its relation to the rest was wholly incomprehensible. 
An episode which evoked such orchestral torrents seemed some- 
what formidable for a love scene! It is probable that in the opera 
the torrent is justified. Perhaps it may afford an opportunity 
for the opera houses to produce something new; for I do not 
think they can pretend to teach us anything at all by producing 
the modern operas of Young Italy. 

Richard Strauss has no wild lock of hair, no epileptic ges- 
tures. He is tall and has the free and determined bearing of 
those great explorers who journey among savage tribes with a 
smile on their lips. Perhaps this sort of bearing is necessary to 
shake the conventionality of the public. He has, however, the 



46 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

head of a musician; but his eyes and gestures are those of a 
Superman, to quote Nietzsche, from whose teaching he must 
have imbibed his energy. From Nietzsche too he must have 
learned his loftv scorn of feeble sentimentalities and his desire 
that music should not go on for ever providing a more or less 
satisfactory illumination for our nights, but that it should shine 
like the sun. I can assure you that there is sunshine in the music 
of Strauss. Unquestionably the majority of the audience did not 
like sunshine of this kind, for quite famous musical enthusiasts 
showed unmistakable signs of impatience. But that did not pre- 
vent Strauss from being greeted with rapturous applause. I say 
again that it is not possible to withstand his irresistible domi- 
nation. 



XVI Richard Wagner 

The Societe des Grandes Auditions de 
France 1 did not honour me with an invitation to listen to the 
recent performance of Parsifal at the Xouveau-Thedtre under the 
director, Alfred Cortot. 2 Alfred Cortot is the French conductor 
who has used to the best advantage the pantomime customary to 
German conductors. Like Nikisch 3 — who, however, is Hungarian 
—he has a lock of hair, and that lock is in the highest degree 
arresting owing to the quivers of passion which agitate it on 
the slightest provocation. Sometimes it droops sadly and wearily 
in the tender passages, interposing a complete screen between 
Cortot and the orchestra. Then again it rears itself proudly in 

1 The Societe des Grandes Auditions Musicales de la France was founded 
about twenty-five years ago by the Countess Greffulhe. The moving spirit 
was Raoul Gunsbourg (see note 1, p. 61). Its activities were erratic and 
ceased to all intents and purposes about 1911. 

2 Alfred Denis Cortot, born Nyon, Switzerland, 1877; educated at 
the Paris Conservatoire, studied under Decambes, Rouquon and Diemer, 
winning the piano prize in 1896, and in that year made his debut at the 
Colonne concerts. He arranged and produced the first performance in 
Paris of The Gotterdammerung in 1902. From 1902 to 1911 he was director 
of the Chorus at Bayreuth. His first performance in England was at 
the Queen's Hall Orchestra Symphony Concert on February 14th, 1914. 

3 See Note p. 27. 



Richard Wagner 47 

the martial passages. At such moments Cortot advances on the 
orchestra and aims a threatening baton, like a banderillero 
when he wants to irritate the bull. The members of the orches- 
tra are as cool as Icelanders: they have been there before. Cortot, 
like Weingartner, leans affectionately over the first violins, 
murmuring intimate secrets; he swoops round to the trombones, 
adjuring them with an eloquent gesture, that might be trans- 
lated: "Now my lads! Put some go into it! Try to be supertrom- 
bones!" and the obedient trombones conscientiously do their 
best to swallow the brass tubes. 

It is only fair to add that Cortot understands the innermost 
secrets of Wagner and is himself a perfect musician. He is young, 
his love of music is quite distinterested; and these are good 
reasons enough for not being too hard on him for gestures that 
are more decorative than useful. 

To return to the Societe des Grandes Auditions, did it intend 
to punish me for my Wagnerian iconoclasm by depriving me of 
Parsifal} Did it fear a subversive attitude or a bombshell? I do 
not know, but I should prefer to think that these private per- 
formances are designed for people whose nobility or position in 
high society entitles them to attend such little entertainments 
with a well-bred indifference to what is played. The unimpeach- 
able distinction of the name on the programme frees them from 
the need of any other illumination and makes it possible to listen 
attentively to the latest scandal or to watch those pretty move- 
ments of the heads of women who are not listening to music. But 
let the Societe des Grandes Auditions beware! They will turn 
Wagner's music into a fashionable at home. After all, that phase 
of Wagnerian art which originally imposed on his votaries costly 
pilgrimages and mysterious rites is irritating. I am well aware 
that this Religion of Art was one of Wagner's favourite ideas; 
and he was right, for such a formula is excellent for capturing 
and holding the imagination of an audience; but it has miscar- 
ried by becoming a kind of Religion of Luxury, excluding per- 
force many people who are richer in enthusiasm than in cash. 
The Societe des Grandes Auditions, by carrying on these tradi- 
tions of exclusiveness, seems to me doomed to end in that most 
detestable thing, the art of fashionable society. When Wagner 
was in a good humour he liked to maintain that he would never 



48 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

be so well understood as in France. Was he referring to aristo- 
cratic performances only? I do not think so. King Louis II of 
Bavaria 1 was already annoying him enough with questions of 
arbitrary etiquette; and Wagner's proud sensitiveness was too 
acute to miss the fact that true fame comes solely from the masses 
and not from a more or less gilded and exclusive public. It is 
to be feared that these performances, directed avowedly at the 
diffusion of Wagnerian art, may serve only to alienate the sym- 
pathy of the masses: a cunning trick to make it unpopular. I 
do not mean that the performances will hasten a final eclipse; 
for Wagner's art can never completely die. It will suffer that 
inevitable decay, the cruel brand of time on all beautiful things; 
yet noble ruins must remain, in the shadow of which our grand- 
children will brood over the past splendour of this man who, 
had he been a little more human, would have been altogether 
great. 

In Parsifal, the final effort of a genius which compels our 
homage, Wagner tried to drive his music on a looser rein and let 
it breathe more freely. We have no longer the distraught breath- 
lessness that characterises Tristan's morbid passion or Isolde's 
wild screams of frenzy; nor yet the grandiloquent commentary on 
the inhumanity of Wotan. Nowhere in Wagner's music is a more 
serene beauty attained than in the prelude to the third act of 
Parsifal and in the entire Good Friday episode; although, it 
must be admitted that Wagner's peculiar conception of human 
nature is also shown in the attitude of certain characters in this 
drama. Look at Amfortas, that melancholy Knight of the Grail, 
who whines like a shop girl and whimpers like a baby. Good 
heavens! A Knight of the Grail, a king's son, would plunge his 
spear into his own body rather than parade a guilty wound in 
doleful melodies for three acts! As for Kundry, that ancient 
rose of hell, she has furnished much copy for Wagnerian litera- 
ture; and I confess I have but little affection for such a senti- 
mental draggle-tail. Klingsor is the finest character in Parsifal: 
a quondam Knight of the Grail, sent packing from the Holy 
Place because of his too pronounced views on chastity. His 

l King Louis of Bavaria became Wagner's patron in 1864. It was 
due to him that Wagner became a naturalised Bavarian, and for him 
that Wagner wrote the Huldigungsmarsch. 



Siegfried Wagner 49 

bitter hatred is amazing; he knows the worth of men and scorn- 
fully weighs the strength of their vows of chastity in the balance. 
From this it is quite obvious that this crafty magician, this old 
gaol-bird, is not merely the only human character but the only 
moral character in this drama, in which the falsest moral and 
religious ideas are set forth, ideas of which the youthful Parsifal 
is the heroic and insipid champion. 

Here in short is a Christian drama in which nobody is 
willing to sacrifice himself, though sacrifice is one of the highest 
of the Christian virtues! If Parsifal recovers his miraculous 
spear, it is thanks to old Kundry, the only creature actually 
sacrificed in the story: a victim twice over, once to the diabolical 
intrigues of Klingsor and again to the sacred spleen of a Knight 
of the Grail. The atmosphere is certainly religious, but why have 
the incidental children's voices such sinister harmonies? Think 
for a moment of the childlike candour that would have been 
conveyed if the spirit of Palestrina had been able to dictate its 
expression. 

The above remarks only apply to the poet whom we are 
accustomed to admire in Wagner and have nothing to do with 
the musical beauty of the opera, which is supreme. It is incom- 
parable and bewildering, splendid and strong. Parsifal is one 
of the loveliest monuments of sound ever raised to the serene 
glory of music. 



XVII Siegfried Wagner 

Siegfried Wagner 1 bears lightly the heavy 
burden of glory left him by his illustrious father. He does not 
seem even to be aware of it, such is the tranquil assurance of 
his precise, detached attitude. His likeness to his father is 
remarkable; but it is a copy which lacks the touch of genius 
of the original. In his youth apparently he was destined for archi- 
tecture. We shall never know whether architecture lost very 
much when later he turned aside to music; nor is it certain that 

i Siegfried Wagner, born 1871, was the son of Richard Wagner and 
Cosima, Liszt's daughter, formerly wife of Hans von Biilow. 



50 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

music gained very much either. All things considered, it is un- 
doubtedly the part of a dutiful son to wish to carry on his 
father's tradition, but in such a case it is not as easy as taking 
over a haberdasher's shop. It is not a question of Siegfried's 
inability to grasp what was beyond him in his father's work, 
but the fact that he made the attempt implies an attitude of 
mind in which the most childish vanity is mingled with the 
desire to dedicate his work to the honour of a beloved memory. 
On the other hand it was difficult to escape the seductive atmos- 
phere of Bayreuth without endeavouring to drain the magician's 
cup; unfortunately, however, only the dregs of the magic potion 
remain, nor do they smell of anything but vinegar. These ideas 
occurred to me as I listened to fragments of Siegfried Wagner's 
three-act musical comedy, Due Wildfa?ig [Herzog Wildfang]. It 
is decent music and nothing more; something like the task of a 
pupil who, had he studied under Richard Wagner, would not 
greatly have attracted the master's notice, 

Siegfried Wagner, when giving the Siegfried Idyll— which, 
by the way, he conducts exceedingly well— would have perhaps 
been wise to listen to the gentle, persuasive voice of maternal af- 
fection which pervades this work. The Idyll would have urged 
him to pass through life freely and joyfully immune from the 
anxieties and disappointments of the pursuit of fame. It harped 
upon his name and endued it with a lasting radiance. Why has 
he sought new fields of fame which will always be equivocal 
and will leave him, when all is said and done, with only the 
title of the son of Richard Wagner, in my opinion his only 
enviable title? 

The mind of another, however, is a dark forest in which 
we must step warily. Siegfried Wagner has no doubt better rea- 
sons than those by which I try to explain him. He seemed to 
me inferior as a conductor to those generally exported from 
Germany. Among others, Weingartner has more understanding, 
Nikisch is more decorative. Why too is he so finicking in his ren- 
dering of Beethoven's Symphony in A, 1 as to weaken it and make 
it even rather absurd? 



i Beethoven's 7th Symphony in A major, op. 92. 



Cesar Franck 51 

X VIII C esar Franck 

Cesar Franck's Beatitudes 1 does not re- 
quire any staging; it is pure music; and, moreover, it is con- 
sistently beautiful music. Cesar Franck was single minded. To 
have found a beautiful harmony sufficed to make his day happy. 
A rather closer examination of the verses of the Beatitudes reveals 
such a collection of images and truisms as to daunt the most 
resolute man alive. It required the sane and unruffled genius of 
Cesar Franck smilingly to grapple with it all like a kindly apostle 
preaching the gospel and saying: 

"Be not troubled— God will recognise his own." 

Yet a strange impression is produced by the characteristic 
melodiousness of Cesar Franck interpreting verses which would 
disgrace a penny whistle. Meanwhile, there has been much dis- 
cussion of the genius of Cesar Franck, but never a word about his 
unique quality, simplicity. Unhappy and misunderstood as he 
was, he still had the heart of a child, so fundamentally good 
that he could, without a trace of bitterness, contemplate the 
wickedness of mankind and the perversity of things. 

It was thus that he wrote those too facilely dramatic choruses, 
those persistently and wearisomely monotonous elaborations, 
which seem sometimes to mar the beauty of the Beatitudes, with 
that candour and confidence which enlist our admiration when 
he is face to face with music, before which he kneels murmur- 
ing the most profoundly human prayer ever uttered by a mortal 
soul. He never thinks evil or suspects boredom. There is none of 
the trickery so flagrant when Wagner performs a sentimental 
or orchestral pirouette by which he stimulates the attention of 
an audience wearied sometimes by a too continuous breathing 
of a rarefied atmosphere. 

Cesar Franck is always a worshipper of music, and you can 
take it or leave it; no power on earth can induce him to inter- 
rupt a period which he considers just and necessary; however 
long it is, it must be gone through. This is the hall-mark of an 

i C£sar Franck, born Li£ge, 1822, died Paris, 1890; ranked as the 
greatest of modern French teachers and was probably the greatest of 
church organists and composers since Bach. Among his best-known works 
are Les Beatitudes and his Symphony in D. 



52 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

imagination so selfless as to check its very sobs unless it has first 
tested their genuineness. 

In this Cesar Franck is allied to the great masters for whom 
tones have an exact meaning within their own sphere; they use 
them with precision and without ever exacting from them more 
than is explicit in them. Here lies all the difference between the 
impure art of Wagner, with its peculiar beauty and seduction, 
and the art of Franck, which renders service to music without 
expecting any return. What he takes from life he restores to art 
with a modesty which is almost selfless. When Wagner takes from 
life he conquers it, places his foot on its neck and forces it to 
shriek the name of Wagner louder than the trumpets of Fame. 
I should have liked to have portrayed Cesar Franck more pre- 
cisely in order that each reader might have in his mind a clear 
picture of him. Amid all our preoccupations and distractions 
we ought to think of the great musicians; and still more, to 
make others think of them. 

Good Friday seemed to me the right day on which to pay 
homage to one of the greatest of them; for the idea of sacrifice 
which calls for our homage on this sacred day is inherent also 
in his greatness. 



XIX Neglect 

The dead are really sometimes too diffi- 
dent and are willing to wait too long for the sad meed of posthu- 
mous fame. 

To lift the veil from death tactful hands are needed. It 
usually happens however that the hands which exhume are 
clumsy and suspicious; they cast the poor funeral flowers into 
oblivion under the influence of a base and unavowed egoism. 
The blaze of glory that surrounds Bach really obscures Handel 
for us. His oratorios, more numerous than the sands of the sea, 
are unknown to us and, like the sands, contain more pebbles 
than pearls; it is however certain that they would repay patient 
and discriminating study. 



Grieg 53 

Another master now quite forgotten is Alessandro Scarlatti, 1 
the founder of the Neapolitan school, who composed a positive- 
ly amazing number and variety of works. The statement seems 
incredible that Scarlatti, born in 1659, had written by 1715 more 
than 106 operas— not to mention all kinds of other musical com- 
positions. Good heavens! How gifted the man must have been; 
and how could he find time to live? We know a Passion According 
to St. John by him, a little masterpiece of primitive grace, in 
which the choruses seem to be written in pale gold like the 
halos which set off so delicately the virgin faces seen in the 
frescoes of his period. This music is much less fatiguing to listen 
to than The Rhinegold and the hushed emotion exhaled from 
it is gently consoling. I cannot imagine how he found time to 
have a son and to make a distinguished harpsichord player of 
him. He is still appreciated to-day under the name of Domenico 
Scarlatti. 2 

There are many others, but do not be afraid: I do not pro- 
pose to make a contribution to the history of music. I merely 
want to suggest that perhaps it is wrong always to play the same 
things, which might make quite decent people think that music 
was only born yesterday; whereas it has a past whose ashes are 
worth stirring, for within them lingers that unquenchable flame 
to which the present will always owe something of its radiance. 



XX Grieg 

Grieg is the Scandinavian composer who 
was scarcely kind to France at the time of the Dreyfus Case. In 
a letter answering M. Colonne's 3 invitation to come and conduct 
his orchestra, Grieg declared vigorously that never again would 

i Alessandro Scarlatti, born Sicily, 1658 or 1659, died 1725. 

2 Domenico Scarlatti, born Naples, 1684 ; died there 1757. 

3 Edouard Judas Colonne, born Bordeaux, 1838, died Paris, 1910; 
ranked with the best of modern conductors. In 1873 he founded the 
Concerts nationaux, which quickly became known as the Concerts Colonne. 
They are given on Saturday and Sunday afternoons; the audiences consist 
chiefly of students and business people. Colonne specialised in the works 
of Berlioz and Beethoven. 



54 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

he set foot in a country which understood freedom so ill. Con- 
sequently France had to get on without Grieg. But, apparently, 
Grieg could not get on without France, because to-day he is 
quite willing to ignore his quarrel and the frontiers, in order 
to conduct a French orchestra which was once the object of his 
Scandinavian contempt. Besides, the Dreyfus Case is nearly dead 
and Grieg is almost sixty, an age when passions ought naturally 
to be appeased and give place to the calm wisdom of the sage 
who contemplates the course of events as a spectator who has 
weighed and appraised their irresistible march. Even though one 
is a Scandinavian one is human. It is hard to deny oneself the 
welcome which Paris extends so charmingly to foreigners, many 
of whom do not equal Grieg in their appeal to the artistic ear. 

At first I thought that I could only give colour impressions 
of Grieg's music! To begin with, the number of Norwegians 
who usually haunt the Colonne Concerts was tripled; we had 
never before been privileged to see so much red hair, or such 
extravagant hats— for the fashions in Christiania seem to me 
rather behind the times. Then the concert opened with a double 
turn: the performance of an overture called Autumn and the 
ejection of a crowd of Grieg's admirers, who, at the bidding of 
a police-constable, a slave to duty rather than to music, were 
sent to cool their enthusiasm on the banks of the Seine. Was 
a counter-demonstration feared? 

It is not for me to say, but Grieg was in fact for a time the 
object of the most unappreciative comments; nor could I listen 
to the music just then, for I was busily engaged in coming to 
terms with several stern and splendid policemen. 

At last I saw Grieg. From in front he looks like a genial 
photographer; from behind his way of doing his hair makes 
him look like the plants called sunflowers, dear to parrots and 
the gardens that decorate small country stations. Despite his 
age, he is lean and vivacious and conducts the orchestra with 
care and vigour, stressing all the lights and shades and appor- 
tioning the expression with unflagging attention. 

It is a pity that Grieg's visit to Paris has taught us nothing 
new about his art; but he is an exquisite musician when he 
interprets the folk music of his country, although far from 



Vincent d'Indy 55 

equalling Balakirev 1 and Rimsky-Korsakov 2 in the use they make 
of Russian folk music. Apart from this, he is no more than a 
clever musician, more concerned with effects than with genuine 
art. Apparently his real inspiration was a young man of his own 
age, Richard Nordruck, 3 a born genius who would have been 
a great musician had he not died in his twenty-fourth year. His 
death was a twofold misfortune, since it robbed Norway of a 
great man and Grieg of a friendly influence which would cer- 
tainly have prevented him from going astray. 

For the rest, Grieg sets out, like Solness in The Master 
Builder, one of the late Ibsen plays, "to build homes for human 
beings. Cosy, happy homes. . . ." 

I found no trace of this beautiful ideal in the music Grieg 
gave to us yesterday. Perhaps because as yet we know nothing 
of his later works. These may be Ibsen's "cosy homes!" Anyhow, 
Grieg did not give us the pleasure of entering them. The tri- 
umphant welcome he received yesterday may compensate him 
for his trouble in coming to France. Let our most heartfelt wish 
be that in the future he may deem us worthy of finding our- 
selves, if not "cosy," at least "happy" through his music. 



XXI Vincent d'Indy 

L'Etranger 4 is what dogmatic people call 
an example of pure and lofty art, but in my humble opinion 
it is more than that. 

It is the working out of formulas which are admittedly pure 
and lofty, but which have the coldness, blueness, delicacy and 

1 Mily Alexeivich Balakirev, born Nijny-Novgorod, 1836; died St. 
Petersburg, 1910; founded the New Russian School. 

2 Nicholas Andreievich Rimsky-Korsakov, born Tikhuin, Novgorod, 
1844, died 1908. 

3 Richard Nordruck (Nordraak), born Christiania, 1842; died 1866; 
composed incidental music to Bjornson's "Mary Stuart"; assisted Grieg in 
collecting and editing Norwegian folk music. 

4 Paul Marie Theodore Vincent d'Indy, born Paris, 1851; a pupil of 
Cesar Franck; among his best-known works are the operas L'Etranger 
and Fervaal. 



56 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

hardness of steel. Beautiful music is there, but it is, as it were, 
cloaked; and the mastery is so amazing that one hardly ventures 
to feel anything so incongruous as an emotion. 

Say what you will, Wagner's influence on Vincent d'Indy 
was never really profound; Wagner was a strolling player on the 
heroic plane and could never be linked to so strict an artist as 
d'Indy. If Fervaal owes something to the influence of the Wag- 
nerian tradition, it is protected from it by its conscientious scorn 
of the grandiloquent hysteria which ravages the Wagnerian 
heroes. 

I am well aware that Vincent d'Indy will be reproached 
with having freed himself and with having lost his love for the 
hearth and home of the leit-motif— the delight of old Wagnerians 
whose steps are guided by special signposts. 

Why did he not free himself entirely from the craving to 
explain everything, to emphasize everything, which sometimes 
burdens the finest scenes in L'£tranger? 

What is the object of so much music for an excise officer, 
an incidental character with whose anxiety to oppose the over- 
flowing humanity of "the Stranger" I sympathise, but who I 
could wish were more of a good fellow, more truly one of those 
ordinary human beings who think of nothing but their own 
wretched skins? 

The dramatic action of L'Etranger is not, in spite of its 
simplicity, a mere chronicle of events. The action takes place 
in a small fishing village by the sea. A man has recently come to 
live in this village; he is called "the Stranger" for want of a 
better name; his personality is repellent and he neither makes 
friends with nor speaks to anyone; his cap is adorned with an 
emerald which naturally wins him the reputation of a sorcerer. 
He tries to be helpful and kindly, giving his share of fish to 
those who have caught nothing, and endeavours to set free an 
unfortunate man who is being dragged to prison; but the au- 
thorities have no love for wearers of symbols— nor have the 
fishermen. 

In two simple phrases Vincent d'Indy has conveyed the 
character of the Stranger with great clarity. He is a Christian 
hero, in direct lineal descent from the martyrs who performed 
on earth tasks of charity imposed on them by God. The Stranger 



Vincent d'Indy 57 

is, then, the faithful servant whom the Master decides to tempt 
through the love of a woman. He weakens and death alone can 
redeem him. 

No modern music has expressed profound piety and Chris- 
tian charity so well. Indeed, it is d'Indy's deep conviction which 
makes these two phrases so entirely successful; they light up the 
profound meaning of the drama better than any other sort of 
symphonic commentary. 

A young girl, Vita, is attracted by the mystery and the 
brooding melancholy of this man; she has a passion for the 
sea to which she always confides her griefs and hopes. She is, 
however, betrothed to Andre, the handsome excise officer, who 
in a domestic scene proves himself a self-satisfied egoist. He is an 
official who is incapable of understanding that a girl can dream 
of anything but a handsome excise officer. 

In a scene where Vita and the Stranger meet, the plot reaches 
its climax. Vita confesses her love. Since the arrival of the 
Stranger she has ceased to confide in the sea. Deeply moved, the 
Stranger inadvertently reveals his sad secret: 

"Farewell, Vita. All happiness be thine. Tomorrow I go 
hence. For I love thee, I love thee, yes, I love thee passionately 
and well thou knowest it." 

Vita is young and she is betrothed to another. The Stranger, 
by uttering words of love, has lost the purity of heart which 
was his strength; for moral solitude is necessary to the mission 
of redemption to which he is vowed. To devote himself to all 
forbids his devoting himself to one. It is no fun to work miracles 
every day. After all, the Stranger is old; and this purely human 
weakness is rather welcome in so superhuman a character. 

He has for one moment forgotten his mission and is hence- 
forth debarred from his task of charity. He gives Vita the now 
useless emerald and bids her an eternal farewell. Vita, weeping 
bitterly, throws the accursed emerald, the cause of her unhappi- 
ness, into the restless sea whence mysterious voices arise. The sea 
closes over the gem with a wild joy in every wave at having 
recaptured the talisman which had been wont to calm its un- 
willing waters. A storm arises; a vessel is in distress. As might 
be expected the honest fishermen of the first act do not dare to 
go to its aid. 



58 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

Andre, the handsome excise officer, takes advantage of the 
general confusion to come and show Vita his new stripe and to 
offer her a beautiful silver bracelet. He goes too far in his 
egoism and Vita, by her silence, shows him how unwelcome 
his attentions are. He goes away unabashed. The Stranger arrives 
recalled by the danger, demands a small boat, and is about to 
put off alone since no one is willing to share the peril. Vita darts 
forward and, breaking into one of the most beautiful melodies 
ever inspired by love, joins the Stranger. They embark and vanish 
amid the fury of the waves which they no longer have the power 
to calm. An old sailor follows their struggle with his eyes. Sud- 
denly the rope holding them to the shore breaks. The old sailor 
takes off his cap and solemnly pronounces the words of the 
De Profundis. These two souls have found peace in death, the 
only refuge for their hopeless love. 

Let anyone who will look for mysterious symbolism in this 
plot. I prefer to see a simple human story which d'Indy has only 
expressed symbolically to make more absolute the eternal di- 
vorce of Beauty from the mob. 

Without pausing to consider questions of technique, I want 
to do honour to the spirit of goodness hovering over this work, to 
the effort that avoids all complication and especially to the un- 
shrinking boldness of Vincent d'Indy in his lofty aim. If I 
complained just now of too much music, it was because I thought 
that here and there it marred the perfect balance which dis- 
tinguishes so many pages of L'Etranger with unforgettable beau- 
ty. This work is an admirable lesson to those who believe in the 
crude, imported style which consists in crushing music under 
cartloads of realism. 

The Theatre de la Monnaie and its directors are much to 
be congratulated on producing L 'Etranger with an artistic care 
worthy of the highest praise. Possibly the staging might have 
received more careful attention. We ought however to be grate- 
ful for an enterprise which, even in these days, remains cour- 
ageous. 

I have nothing but praise for Sylvain Dupuis 1 and his or- 

l Sylvain Dupuis, the Belgian composer, born 1856; conducted the 
performances of the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels and the Concerts 
populaires in the same city from 1900 onwards. 



Richter 59 

chestra for that sympathetic understanding which is so precious 
to a musician. M. Albert and Mile. Friche contributed to the 
triumph with which the name of the composer was received. 
Indeed, everyone displayed a touching enthusiasm and I see no 
reason why we should not congratulate the city of Brussels. 



XXII Richter 

It is not for me to say precisely in what 
the superiority of Anglo-Saxons consists, but, amongst other 
things, they have Covent Garden. This theatre possesses the pecu- 
liar characteristic of making music seem to be at home there. 
More attention is given to perfect acoustics than to sumptuous 
decorations and the orchestra is numerous and well disciplined. 
Besides all this, Andre Messager 1 assumes the artistic responsibil- 
ities with the perfect and unerring taste which everyone expects 
from him. You see how astonishing all this is, for they actually 
think that a musician can manage an opera house successfully! 
They really must be mad— or else they are systematic! In any 
case I shall institute no comparisons; they would establish too 
completely the poverty of our own methods, and our national 
pride might suffer. Only let us avoid false notes in blowing 
the trumpet of Fame on behalf of the glory of our own Opera; 
or, at all events, let us use a mute. 

Recently I attended the performances of The Rhinegold 
and The Valkyrie. It seems to me impossible to achieve greater 
perfection. Although the scenery and certain lighting effects 
might be open to criticism, the artistic care shown throughout 
compels our admiration. 

Richter 2 conducted the first performance of The Ring at 
Bayreuth in 1876. At that time his hair and beard were red- 

i Andr£ Charles Prosper Messager, born Montlucon, 1853; the com- 
poser of the light operas, Veronique, Les P'tites Michus, etc.; was made 
"Artistic Director" at Covent Garden for several seasons. 

2 Hans Richter, born Raab, Hungary, 1843, died Bayreuth, 1916; 
the foremost of Wagnerian conductors; presided over the London Phil- 
harmonic Concerts in 1879 and over the Hall6 concerts in Manchester 
from 1900. 



60 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

gold; now his hair has gone, but behind his gold spectacles his 
eyes still flash magnificently. They are the eyes of a prophet; and 
he is in fact a prophet which he only ceases to be, at least as 
far as the Wagnerian cult is concerned, through Mme. Cosima 
Wagner's 1 decision to replace him by her estimable but mediocre 
son, Siegfried Wagner. 

It was a sound arrangement from the point of view of 
domestic economy, but deplorable for the fame of Wagner. 
Such a man as Wagner needs men like Richter, Levy 2 or Mottl* 
—they are part of the splendid adventure which, at a given stage, 
brought Wagner into touch with a king— not to mention Liszt, 
whom he conscientiously plagiarised and who met him with 
nothing but a kindly smile of acquiescence. 

There was something miraculous in Wagner, and his im- 
punity as a despot almost excused his imperturbable vanity. 

If Richter looks like a prophet, when he conducts the or- 
chestra he is Almighty God: and you may be sure that God 
Himself would have asked Richter for some hints before em- 
barking on such an adventure. 

While his right hand, armed with a small unpretentious 
baton, secures the precision of the rhythm, his left hand, multi- 
plied a hundredfold, directs the performance of each individual. 
This left hand is "undulating and diverse," its suppleness is 
unbelievable! Then, when it seems that there is really no possi- 
bility of attaining a greater wealth of sound, up go his two 
arms, and the orchestra leaps through the music with so furious 
an onset as to sweep the most stubborn indifference before it like 
a straw. Yet all this pantomime is unobtrusive and never dis- 
tracts the attention unpleasantly or comes between the music 
and the audience. 

I tried in vain to meet this marvellous man. He is a sage 
who shrinks in wild alarm from interviews. I caught sight of him 
for a moment as he rehearsed Fafner, the unfortunate dragon 
on whom that heroic little simpleton, Siegfried, was just about 
to test the virtue of his sword. It is easy to understand my emo- 

i See Note p. 49. 

2 Hermann Levi (Levy), born Giessen, 1839, died Munich, 1900; was 
conductor at Carlsruhe and Munich; conducted the first performance of 
Parsifal at Bayreuth. 

3 See Note 3, p. 21. 



Berlioz 61 

tion as I watched the conscientious old man bent over the piano 
while he performed the duties of a mere producer. Could I 
interrupt so excellent a man on the futile pretext of extracting 
confidences from him? Would it not be as outrageous as a pre- 
sumptuous offer suddenly to extract one of his teeth? 

You may be sure that the German theatres had been ran- 
sacked to discover singers worthy of such a performance. I wish 
I could mention them all. For to-day, I will refer only to Van 
Dyck, who interpreted the ironic fantasy of Loki in The Rhine- 
gold, and the impassioned poetry of Siegmund in The Valkyrie. 
M. Lieban in his astonishing performance of the sly and obsequi- 
ous dwarf, Mime, sang marvellously. These two men are great 
artists. 

Mile. Zimmermann almost made us forget Mme. Caron, 
who used to invest the role of Sieglinde with such poignant 
charm. As for the three Rhine maidens, I only wish you could 
have heard them. 

An English audience listens with almost rapt attention. 
If any boredom is felt there is no sign of it. On the other 
hand the theatre is plunged in darkness throughout the acts, 
so that it is possible to sleep in perfect safety. Following the 
strict Wagnerian tradition, there was no applause until the 
end of each act, when Richter went off contentedly, oblivious of 
it and impatient, maybe, to find recuperation in a glass of beer. 



XXIII Berlioz 

Berlioz never had any luck. He suffered 
from the inadequacy of the orchestras and the intellects of his 
time. To-day, however, the inventive genius of M. Gunsbourg, 1 
supported by the Societe des Grandes Auditions Musicales de 
France, has undertaken to revive and to augment Berlioz's post- 
humous glory by adapting The Damnation of Faust to the stage. 

1 Raoul Gunsbourg, born at Bukarest, 1859; is a literary man, a 
composer and Director of the Opera at Monte Carlo. He organised a 
series of performances of La Damnation de Faust adapted for the stage. 
See note 1 on La Societe des Grandes Auditions Musicales de la France on 
p. 46. 



62 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

Without condemning the policy of such an adaptation we 
may at least urge the undeniable fact that, since Berlioz died 
without leaving any precise views on its suitability, it is aesthet- 
ically debatable. Besides this, to step into a dead man's shoes 
without a specific invitation seems to me a deliberate flouting of 
the respect which we usually show to the dead. But here again 
M. Gunsbourg's unwavering confidence in his own genius gives 
him a natural right to treat Berlioz as a brother, and to carry 
out instructions which have probably come to him from beyond 
the grave. 

In doing this M. Gunsbourg carries on the unfortunate 
tradition which requires masterpieces to breed a teeming horde 
of commentators, adapters and manipulators, whose representa- 
tives spring into existence without any further definite function 
than that of befogging with pompous words and epithets the said 
unhappy masterpieces. 

Berlioz, alas, is not the only victim! There is the smile of the 
famous Gioconda, which a strange perversity has labelled for all 
time mysterious. There is Beethoven's Choral Symphony which 
has been subjected to such transcendental interpretations, that 
even such a powerful and straightforward work as this has be- 
come a universal nightmare. There is the whole work of Wagner, 
which needed all its solidity to withstand the industrious en- 
thusiasm of its editors. 

Such practices result in a kind of special literature and even 
in a recognised profession in which success is certain provided 
the beaten track is never left, since its members being engaged 
in criticising others are bound to be immune from the danger 
of mutual criticism. In some respects it is a laudable profession; 
in others it seems to have a certain futility, though a greater or 
less degree of cleverness may win fame for its members. 

So far, Berlioz had escaped any such intrusion; only Jul- 
lien, 1 in an admirably documented book, had piously recorded 
the calvary of his fame and Fantin-Latour had interpreted his 
music in lithographic dreams. Incidentally, the work of Berlioz, 
through his pre-occupation with colour and incident, became at 
once a subject for artists; one might even say without irony that 

1 Adolphe Jullien, the author of Hector Berlioz, sa vie et ses ceuvres, 
illustrated with fourteen original lithogravures by Fantin-Latour, Paris, 1888. 



Berlioz 63 

Berlioz has always been the favourite musician of those who do 
not know much about music. Other musicians are alarmed at the 
liberties he takes with harmony— they even call them blunders— 
and his "Go-to-the-devil!" style. Are these the reasons which 
make his influence on modern music negligible and leave his 
own, in a way, unique? In France, with the exception of Gustave 
Charpentier, 1 I can hardly find a trace of his influence, and even 
there only in a superficial sense, since Charpentier's art is un- 
doubtedly individual as far as concerns anything that is funda- 
mental in his music. 

This brings me to the fact that Berlioz was never, properly 
speaking, a stage-musician. Despite the real beauties of Les 
Troyens, a lyrical tragedy in two parts, faulty proportions make 
its performance difficult and produce an almost monotonous, not 
to say wearisome, effect. For the rest, Berlioz has nothing new to 
offer in this work. He echoes Gluck, whom he passionately ad- 
mired, and Meyerbeer, whom he religiously hated. We must not 
seek Berlioz here. We must seek him in his pure symphonic 
music or in his Enfance du Christ, which is perhaps his master- 
piece; nor must we forget the Symphonie Fantastique and the 
music of his Romeo and Juliet. 

But M. Gunsbourg was on the watch and said: "My dear 
Berlioz, you know nothing about it! If you have never succeeded 
on the stage, it is because, unfortunately, I was not at hand to 
help you with my experience. Now you are dead, and we can put 
everything to rights. Listen! You composed a dramatic legend, 
The Damnation of Faust. It is not bad, but it is not alive! And 
what interest can you expect people to take in your Marche 
Hongroise if they do not see soldiers exercising at the back of 
the stage? As for your Ballet des Sylphes, it is most charming 
music. But you will never make me believe that a mere symphony 
orchestra can ever take the place of an attractive ballet dancer! 
Your Course a I'Abime is terrifying, my dear fellow! But you 
wait and see; I will make it poignant and ghastly. I will turn 
aside the course of rivers in order to make natural waterfalls; I 
will make a rain of real blood supplied by the slaughter-houses; 
the horses of Faust and Mephistopheles shall trample upon real 

l See Note 1, p. 40. 



64 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

corpses. Fortunately, too, you won't be able to interfere! You 
were so eccentric when you were alive that your presence could 
only spoil the whole thing." 

So saying, M. Gunsbourg set to work and adapted frantically. 
As he made his way through Faust he was even more convinced 
that this "confounded Berlioz" knew nothing whatever about it. 
"Too much music," he grumbled, and "what facility!" but "it is 
disconnected, I must have recitatives. It is a pity that he is really 
dead, but it can't be helped! We must get along without him." 
And M. Gunsbourg got along without him; he added recitatives 
and altered the order of the scenes. Everything, or nearly every- 
thing, gave him an excuse for ballets and supers, resulting in a 
performance in which the tricks of the pantomime were com- 
bined with the attractions of the Folies-Bergere. 

At Monte Carlo it might have succeeded. People do not go 
there just to listen to beautiful music, which has about as much 
importance for them as a fine afternoon. The delightful adven- 
turers who adorn that resort are not very particular, and the 
charming cosmopolitan young ladies only regard music as an 
unobtrusive and useful accompaniment to their smiles. 

Something better was essential for Paris; so the Societe des 
Grandes Auditions, for whose well-known eclecticism no sacri- 
fice is too great, intervened. In this case, it sems to me, they sacri- 
ficed everything, even the most elementary good taste. Their 
desire to give France lessons in the best music has, I fear, carried 
them beyond all bounds; but the fashionable set, owing to a 
lack of interest, may be more easily deceived than others. Be- 
sides that, there were admirable singers such as M. Renaud, per- 
haps the only artist who, by his tact and good taste, could make 
the Mephistopheles, conceived by the fancy of M. Gunsbourg, 
tolerable. M. Alvarez and Mme. Calve are too celebrated not to 
be perfect, even in Faust. But, good Heavens! what marionettes 
they had to be! 

Finally, there are two beings who would have been amazed 
at the performance. In the first place Faust, though he did meet 
his old friend M. Colonne, would have been astonished at finding 
himself filling the passages in which he had been accustomed to 
keep still with a pantomime which he would be at a loss to 
understand. In the second place the Spirit of Music would have 



Gounod 65 

recoiled from the consciousness of often being de trop or even 
utterly unnecessary. She is so little at home on the stage, poor 
thing, that she blushes at the sound of her own voice and at the 
awkward figure she cuts in the staging imposed on her by M. 
Gunsbourg. 

For the future, M. Gunsbourg may sleep in peace. His bust 
will face that of Berlioz in the gardens at Monte Carlo; he will 
be much more at home there, and Berlioz will certainly have no 
reason to complain of his proximity. 



XXIV Gounod 

Many unbiassed people— that is to say, 
people who are not musicians— wonder why the Opera persists 
in giving Gounod's Faust. There are several reason's, the chief 
being that Gounod's art represents a phase of French aesthetic 
development. Whether we like it or not, such things are not for- 
gotten. 

As to Faust, eminent writers on music have reproached 
Gounod with travestying Goethe's conception; but the same emi- 
nent writers never think of noticing that Wagner may have mis- 
represented the character of Tannhauser, who, in the legend, is 
not at all the repentant little scapegrace Wagner makes him out 
to be, nor did his staff, scorched by the memory of Venus, ever 
flower again. Gounod is a Frenchman and may therefore be 
forgiven; but in the case of Wagner, since he and Tannhauser 
were both Germans, it is inexcusable. 

We love so many things in France that we do not really 
love music. Yet there are very clever people who, by dint of 
hearing all kinds of music every day, profess to be musicians. 
But they never write music— they encourage others. That is gen- 
erally how a school is started. You must not mention Gounod to 
them; they would look scornfully down on you from among their 
Olympians, whose most delightful quality is that they are inter- 
changeable. Gounod did not belong to any school. The masses 
are in much the same position. Their reply to the countless 
artistic invitations is a return to the familiar, which is not al- 



66 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

ways in the best taste. They may oscillate blindly between Pere 
la Victoire 1 and The Valkyrie, but there it is. The people who so 
oddly constitute the elect may loudly trumpet famous or respec- 
table names, but the fashion changes as with hats. It is no use; 
educators may waste their breath, but the great vague heart of 
the people refuses to be caught; art continues to blow where it 
listeth, and the Opera persists in giving Faust. 

We must make the best of it, however, and admit that art 
is of absolutely no use to the masses; it does not even express the 
mind of the elite who are often more stupid than the masses. It 
is the expression of beauty in full flower which blossoms at its 
appointed time at the bidding of a mysterious destiny. One can 
no more compel the masses to love beauty than one can decently 
ask them to stand on their heads. In passing, it is noteworthy 
that the spontaneous effect of Berlioz on the masses is practically 
invariable. 

If Gounod's influence is questionable, Wagner's is obvious, 
though, since it never extends beyond the specialists, it is in fact 
incomplete. We are bound to admit that nothing was ever more 
dreary than the neo-Wagnerian school in which the French 
genius has lost its way among the sham Wotans in Hessian boots 
and the Tristans in velvet jackets. 

Although Gounod may lack the sweeping harmony that we 
could wish for him, he deserves our praise for having evaded the 
domination of the genius of Wagner, whose peculiarly German 
ideal was not clearly realised in his attempt at a fusion of the 
arts. It has become hardly more than a formula for the advance- 
ment of literature. 

Gounod, with all his faults, is needed. To begin with, he is 
cultured; he knows Palestrina and draws upon Bach. His respect 
for tradition is discriminating enough for him not to be swept 
away by Gluck, another rather indeterminate foreign influence. 
It is rather Mozart for whom he asks the affection of young peo- 
ple, which is a proof of great disinterestedness, for he never drew 
inspiration from him. His relations with Mendelssohn were 

l This popular patriotic French aid was written in the late 'eighties 
during the presidency of Sadi Carnot. Its theme was the anticipated re- 
organisation of the French army by Carnot as it had been reorganised 
in 1793 by the previous Carnot, called I'Organisateur de la Victoire. 



An Open Letter to the Chevalier Gluck 67 

more obvious, since it is to him that he owes his method, so con- 
venient when the flow of inspiration fails, of developing the 
melody step by step. Generally speaking, Mendelssohn's influence 
was perhaps more direct than that of Schumann. Bizet 1 he ig- 
nores, and that is a very good thing. Bizet, unfortunately, died 
too soon and, although he left a masterpiece, the development of 
French music was not affected. French music is still in the posi- 
tion of a pretty widow who, having no one by her side strong 
enough to direct her, falls, to her cost, into alien arms. It is un- 
deniable that certain unions are necessary in art, but we should 
at least use some discretion; to choose the loudest shouter is not 
necessarily to choose the finest man. These unions are too often 
merely self-interested and little more than a means of reviving 
a waning fame. Like cautious marriages, they turn out badly. 
Let us magnanimously accept such art as is imported into France, 
only let us not be blinded or fall into ecstasies over penny whis- 
tles. Let us make up our minds that this valuation will not be re- 
ciprocated; on the contrary, our good nature induces that stern 
and discourteous attitude in foreigners, of which we can hardly 
complain since we have challenged it. To conclude these notes 
which are too brief for the ideas with which they deal and which 
are sometimes depreciatory of Gounod, let us, without being 
over dogmatic, take the opportunity of rendering our homage to 
him. Let it be stated once again that a name lives in the memory 
of men for various though not necessarily weighty reasons. One 
of the best means of achieving this is to stir the emotions of the 
majority of one's contemporaries. Of that no one will deny 
Gounod made generous use. 



XX V An Open Letter to the 
Chevalier W. Gluck 

Sir,— Shall I write to you or shall I sum- 
mon your spirit? My letter would probably not reach you; and 

1 Georges Alexandre Cesar Leopold Bizet, born Paris, 1838, died 
Bougival, near Paris, 1875; among his best-known works are Carmen 
and VArlesienne. 



68 Debussy: Monsieur Croche 

it is doubtful whether you would consent to leave the abode of 
the blessed to come and talk to me about the fate of an art in 
which you excelled to such a degree that you might reasonably 
expect to have your name omitted from interminable discus- 
sions on the subject. I shall, therefore, employ both and endow 
you with an imaginary life which allows me a certain freedom. 
You will, I hope, pardon me for not admiring your work; I shall 
not on that account forget the respect due to so famous a man. 

You were in fact a court musician. Royal hands turned the 
pages of your manuscripts and you enjoyed the approbation of 
painted smiles. There was a great to-do about you and a man 
called Piccini 1 who composed over sixty operas. You were the 
victim of the universal law that quantity shall take the place of 
quality, and that Italians shall at all times glut the music mar- 
ket. The said Piccini has been so completely forgotten that he 
has had to take the name of Puccini 2 in order to get himself per- 
formed at the Opera Comique. However, discussions between 
cultured priests and dogmatic encyclopaedists can hardly have 
affected you; both sides spoke of music with an incompetence 
that you would find as common to-day. It is true that you showed 
your independence by conducting the first performance of Iphi- 
genia in Aulis with your nightcap instead of your wig on your 
head, but it was even more important for you to please your king 
and queen. You must accept the fact that such illustrious associa- 
tions have lent to your music an almost uniformly pompous 
bearing. When your characters fall in love, they do so with 
majestic dignity; even suffering makes a preliminary obeisance. 
Is it more elegant to please King Louis XIV than to please soci- 
ety under the Third Republic? That is a question which your 
status as a dead man prevents me from deciding in the affirm- 
ative. 

Your art was essentially in the grand ceremonious style. 
Common people only participated at a distance. They were used 
to seeing others pass by who were more fortunate and more com- 

1 Niccola Piccini, born Paris, 1779, died Paris, 1850; rivalled Gluck 
in popular fame as a composer of opera. The musicians of France were 
divided into two hostile camps, but the Gluck party carried the day. 
Piccini's influence on opera is negligible. 

2 Giacomo Puccini, born Lucca, 1858; among his best-known works 
are Manon Lescaut, La Boheme, La Tosca, Madame Butterfly. 



An Open Letter to the Chevalier Gluck 69 

fortable than themselves. You represented to them, as it were, a 
wall behind which something was happening. 

We have changed all that, my dear Chevalier, for we have a 
social sense and we endeavour to reach the heart of the masses. 
We are not succeeding any better and it does not make us any 
prouder of ourselves! You have no idea how hard it is for us to 
found a People's Opera. 

In spite of the "luxurious" aspect of your art, it has had 
considerable influence on French music. You can be traced in 
Spontini, 1 Lesueur, 2 Mehul 3 and others; you embody the Wag- 
nerian formulas in embryo, which is intolerable; you will see 
why in a moment. Between ourselves, your words and music 
harmonise badly; in any case, you make the French language 
one of accentuation, whereas it is a language of inflection. I 
know you are a German. Rameau, who helped to form your 
genius, gives examples of fine and vigorous declamation which 
ought to have been more useful to you— I say nothing about the 
musician in Rameau, because I do not wish to be offensive to 
you. It is owing to you that the action of the drama now dom- 
inates the music. Is that really desirable? All things considered, 
I prefer Mozart to you; the splendid fellow entirely ignores you 
and thinks of nothing but music. To attain that domination you 
took Greek subjects, which accounts for the solemn nonsense 
that is talked about the alleged connection between your music 
and Greek art. 

Rameau was infinitely more Greek than you. Do not fly into 
a passion— I shall soon be leaving you. Moreover, Rameau was 
lyrical, which suited us from all points of view; we had only to 
remain lyrical and had no need to wait for a century of music 
to revive that quality in us. 

Through knowing you French music enjoyed the somewhat 

i Gasparo Luigi Pacifico Spontini, born Majolati, near Jesi, 1774, 
died 1851; enjoyed fame as a musician during his lifetime, but failed to 
create anything of permanent value. 

2 Jean Francois Lesueur, born Drucat-Plessiel, near Abbeville, 1760, died 
Paris, 1837; his best-known works are the operas Telemaque, Paul et 
Virginie and La Caverne. 

3 Etienne Nicholas Henri Mehul, born Givel, Ardennes, 1763, died 
Paris, 1817; his Joseph and other popular operas were written under the 
influence of Gluck. 



70 Debussy: Monsieur Croehe 

unlooked-for blessing of falling into the arms of Wagner; I like 
to think that, but for you, not only would this not have hap- 
pened, but that French music would not have asked its way so 
often of people who were only too ready to lead it astray. 

In conclusion, you have benefited by the many false inter- 
pretations given to the word "classic"; but to have invented a 
purring accompaniment to drama, sacrificing any attempt at 
music, does not entitle you to be called a "classic." Rameau has 
more serious claims to such a title. 

I am sorry, because of Mme. Caron's performance, that you 
are dead. She presented your Iphigenia as a type of purity in- 
finitely more Greek than any you ever conceived. There was not 
an attitude or a gesture which was not of supreme beauty. 

All the deep emotion you failed to embody in this character 
was discovered by Mme. Caron. Her every step was music. Could 
you have seen how she went to sit by the sacred tree before the 
sacrifice in the third act, you would have wept, so poignant a 
grief was there in that simple movement. 

And when, at the end of the opera, you unite the tender 
Iphigenia and the faithful Pylades in the bonds of Hymen, Mme. 
Caron's face was so radiantly transfigured that one forgot the 
commonplace banality of this climax in admiration of her violet 
eyes; a colour, as you know, especially dear to all who dream 
vaguely of Greek beauty. 

In this woman your music is idealised; it is no longer la- 
belled with a period; for, by a gift, which makes us believe in 
the survival of the ancient gods, hers is the soul of tragedy which 
raises the dark veil from the past and calls to life again those 
dead cities where the worship of Beauty was harmoniously 
wedded to the worship of Art. 

M. Cossira would have delighted you with the charm of his 
voice, and M. Dufrane by the convincing way in which he roared 
the fury of Orestes. I did not much care for the Scythian inter- 
lude in the first act, which suggests at once the Russian moujik 
and the antics of a party of cabmen. Your warlike interludes, 
allow me to say, are most difficult to perform; for neither the 
music, nor the rhythm gives any very precise guide. You may rest 



An Open Letter to the Chevalier Gluck 71 

assured that everywhere else M. Carre* has found the proper set- 
ting. 

And with this, my dear Chevalier, 
I have the honour to remain, 
Your very humble servant, 

Claude Debussy. 



Sketch of a New Esthetic 
of Music 



Ferruccio Busoni 



What seek you? Say! And what do you expect? — 
I know not what; the Unknown I would have! 
What's known to me, is endless; I would go 
Beyond the end: The last word still is wanting. 
["Der mdchtige Zauberer."] 



Loosely joined together as regards liter- 
ary form, the following notes are, in reality, the outcome of 
convictions long held and slowly matured. 

In them a problem of the first magnitude is formulated with 
apparent simplicity, without giving the key to its final solution; 
for the problem cannot be solved for generations— if at all. 

But it involves an innumerable series of lesser problems, 
which I present to the consideration of those whom they may 
concern. For it is a long time since any one has devoted himself 
to earnest musical research. 

It is true, that admirable works of genius arise in every 
period, and I have always taken my stand in the front rank of 
those who joyfully acclaimed the passing standard-bearers; and 
still it seems to me that of all these beautiful paths leading so 
far afield— none lead upward. 

The spirit of an art-work, the measure of emotion, of hu- 
manity, that is in it— these remain unchanged in value through 
changing years; the form which these three assumed, the manner 
of their expression, and the flavor of the epoch which gave them 
birth, are transient, and age rapidly. 

Spirit and emotion retain their essence, in the art-work as 
in man himself; we admire technical achievements, yet they are 
outstripped, or cloy the taste and are discarded. 

Its ephemeral qualities give a work the stamp of "moder- 
nity;" its unchangeable essence hinders it from becoming "ob- 
solete." Among both "modern" and "old" works we find good 
and bad, genuine and spurious. There is nothing properly 

75 



76 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

modern— only things which have come into being earlier or 
later; longer in bloom, or sooner withered. The Modern and 
the Old have always been. 

Art-forms are the more lasting, the more closely they adhere 
to the nature of their individual species of art, the purer they 
keep their essential means and ends. 

Sculpture relinquishes the expression of the human pupil, and 
effects of color; painting degenerates, when it forsakes the flat 
surface in depiction and takes on complexity in theatrical decora- 
tion or panoramic portrayal. 

Architecture has its fundamental form, growth from below 
upward, prescribed by static necessity; window and roof neces- 
sarily provide the intermediate and finishing configuration; 
these are eternal and inviolable requirements of the art. 

Poetry commands the abstract thought, which it clothes in 
words. More independent than the others, it reaches the furthest 
bounds. 

But all arts, resources and forms ever aim at the one end, 
namely, the imitation of nature and the interpretation of human 
feelings. 

Architecture, sculpture, poetry and painting are old and 
mature arts; their conceptions are established and their objects 
assured; they have found the way through uncounted centuries, 
and, like the planets, describe their regular orbits. 1 

Music, compared with them, is a child that has learned to 
walk, but must still be led. It is a virgin art, without experience 
in life and suffering. 

It is all unconscious as yet of what garb is becoming, of its 
own advantages, its unawakened capacities. And again, it is a 
child-marvel that is already able to dispense much of beauty, that 
has already brought joy to many, and whose gifts are commonly 
held to have attained full maturity. 

Music as an art, our so-called occidental music, is hardly 
four hundred years old; its state is one of development, perhaps 
the very first stage of a development beyond present conception, 

l None the less, in these arts, taste and individuality can and will 
unceasingly find refreshment and rejuvenation. 



Characterization of the Arts 77 

and we— we talk of "classics" and "hallowed traditions"! And we 
have talked of them for a long time! 1 

We have formulated rules, stated principles, laid down 
laws;— we apply laws made for maturity to a child, that knows 
nothing of responsibility! 

Young as it is, this child, we already recognize that it pos- 
sesses one radiant attribute which signalizes it beyond all its 
elder sisters. And the lawgivers will not see this marvelous at- 
tribute, lest their laws should be thrown to the winds. This child 
—it floats on air! It touches not the earth with its feet. It knows 
no law of gravitation. It is wellnigh incorporeal. Its material is 
transparent. It is sonorous air. It is almost Nature herself. It is— 
free. 

But freedom is something that mankind have never wholly 
comprehended, never realized to the full. They can neither 
recognize nor acknowledge it. 

They disavow the mission of this child; they hang weights 
upon it. This buoyant creature must walk decently, like anybody 
else. It may scarcely be allowed to leap— when it were its joy to 
follow the line of the rainbow, and to break sunbeams with the 
clouds. 

Music was born free; and to win freedom is its destiny. It 
will become the most complete of all reflexes of Nature by reason 
of its untrammeled immateriality. Even the poetic word ranks 
lower in point of incorporealness. It can gather together and 
disperse, can be motionless repose or wildest tempestuosity; it 
has the extremest heights perceptible to man— what other art 
has these?— and its emotion seizes the human heart with that 
intensity which is independent of the "idea." 

It realizes a temperament, without describing it, with the 
mobility of the soul, with the swiftness of consecutive moments; 
and this, where painter or sculptor can represent only one side 



l Tradition is a plaster mask taken from life, which, in the course of 
many years, and after passing through the hands of innumerable artisans, 
leaves its resemblance to the original largely a matter of imagination. 



78 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

or one moment, and the poet tardily communicates a tempera- 
ment and its manifestations by words. 

Therefore, representation and description are not the nature 
of music; herewith we declare the invalidity of program-music, 
and arrive at the question: What are the aims of music? 



Absolute Music! What the lawgivers 
mean by this, is perhaps remotest of all from the Absolute in 
music. "Absolute music" is a form-play without poetic program, 
in which the form is intended to have the leading part. But 
Form, in itself, is the opposite pole of absolute music, on which 
was bestowed the divine prerogative of buoyancy, of freedom 
from the limitations of matter. In a picture, the illustration of a 
sunset ends with the frame; the limitless natural phenomenon is 
enclosed in quadrilateral bounds; the cloud-form chosen for 
depiction remains unchanging for ever. Music can grow brighter 
or darker, shift hither or yon, and finally fade away like the 
sunset glow itself; and instinct leads the creative musician to 
employ the tones that press the same key within the human 
breast, and awaken the same response, as the processes in Nature. 

Per contra, "absolute music" is something very sober, which 
reminds one of music-desks in orderly rows, of the relation of 
Tonic to Dominant, of Developments and Codas. 

Methinks I hear the second violin struggling, a fourth below, 
to emulate the more dexterous first, and contending in needless 
contest merely to arrive at the starting-point. This sort of music 
ought rather to be called the "architectonic," or "symmetric," or 
"sectional," and derives from the circumstance that certain com- 
posers poured their spirit and their emotion into just this mould 
as lying nearest them or their time. Our lawgivers have identified 
the spirit and emotion, the individuality of these composers and 
their time, with "symmetric" music, and finally, being powerless 
to recreate either the spirit, or the emotion, or the time, have re- 
tained the Form as a symbol, and made it into a fetish, a reli- 
gion. The composers sought and found this form as the aptest 
vehicle for communicating their ideas; their souls took flight— 
and the lawgivers discover and cherish the garments Euphorion 
left behind on earth. 



Absolute Music 79 

A lucky find! 'Twas now or never; 
The flame is gone, it's true — however, 

No need to pity mankind now. 
Enough is left for many a poet's tiring, 

Or to breed envy high and low; 
And though I have no talents here for hiring, 

I'll hire the robe out, anyhow. 

Is it not singular, to demand of a composer originality in 
all things, and to forbid it as regards form? No wonder that, 
once he becomes original, he is accused of "formlessness." Mo- 
zart! the seeker and the finder, the great man with the childlike 
heart— it is he we marvel at, to whom we are devoted; but not 
his Tonic and Dominant, his Developments and Codas. 

Such lust of liberation filled Beethoven, the romantic revo- 
lutionary, that he ascended one short step on the way leading 
music back to its loftier self:— a short step in the great task, 
a wide step in his own path. He did not quite reach absolute 
music, but in certain moments he divined it, as in the intro- 
duction to the fugue of the Sonata for Hammerclavier. Indeed, 
all composers have drawn nearest the true nature of music in 
preparatory and intermediary passages (preludes and transi- 
tions), where they felt at liberty to disregard symmetrical propor- 
tions, and unconsciously drew free breath. Even a Schumann (of 
so much lower stature) is seized, in such passages, by some feeling 
of the boundlessness of this pan-art (recall the transition to the 
last movement of the D-minor Symphony); and the same may be 
asserted of Brahms in the introduction to the Finale of his First 
Symphony. 

But, the moment they cross the threshold of the Principal 
Subject, their attitude becomes stiff and conventional, like that 
of a man entering some bureau of high officialdom. 

Next to Beethoven, Bach bears closest affinity to "infinite 
music." 1 His Organ Fantasias (but not the Fugues) have indu- 
bitably a strong dash of what might be overwritten "Man and 

1 "Die Ur-Musik," is the author's happy phrase. But as this music 
never has been, our English terms like "primitive," "original," etc., would 
involve a non sequitur which is avoided, at least, by "infinite." [Trans- 
lator's Note.] 



80 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

Nature." 1 In him it appears most ingenuous because he had no 
reverence for his predecessors (although he esteemed and made 
use of them), and because the still novel acquisition of equal 
temperament opened a vista of— for the time being— endless new 
possibilities. 

Therefore, Bach and Beethoven 2 are to be conceived as a 
beginning, and not as unsurpassable finalities. In spirit and 
emotion they will probably remain unexcelled; and this, again, 
confirms the remark at the beginning of these lines: That spirit 
and emotion remain unchanged in value through changing years, 
and that he who mounts to their uttermost heights will always 
tower above the crowd. 

What still remains to be surpassed, is their form of expres- 
sion and their freedom. Wagner, a Germanic Titan, who touched 
our earthly horizon in orchestral tone-effect, who intensified the 
form of expression, but fashioned it into a system (music-drama, 
declamation, leading-motive), is on this account incapable of 
further intensification. His category begins and ends with him- 
self; first, because he carried it to the highest perfection and 
finish; secondly, because his self-imposed task was of such a na- 
ture, that it could be achieved by one man alone. 3 The paths 
opened by Beethoven can be followed to their end only through 
generations. They— like all things in creation— may form only a 
circle; but a circle of such dimensions, that the portion visible to 
us seems like a straight line. Wagner's circle we can view in its 
entirety— a circle within the great circle. 



The name of Wagner leads to program- 
music. This has been set up as a contrast to so-called "absolute" 

i In the recitatives of his Passions we hear "human speech"; not 
"correct declamation." 

2 As characteristic traits of Beethoven's individuality I would mention 
the poetic fire, the strong human feeling (whence springs his revolutionary 
temper), and a portent of modern nervousness. These traits are certainly 
opposed to those of a "classic." Moreover, Beethoven is no "master," 
as the term applies to Mozart or the later Wagner, just because his art 
foreshadows a greater, as yet incomplete. (Compare the section next- 
following.) 

3 "Together with the problem, it gives us the solution," as I once 
said of Mozart. 



Program and Motive 81 

music, and these concepts have become so petrified that even 
persons of intelligence hold one or the other dogma, without 
recognition for a third possibility beyond and above the other 
two. In reality, program-music is precisely as one-sided and lim- 
ited as that which is called absolute. In place of architectonic 
and symmetric formulas, instead of the relation of Tonic to 
Dominant, it has bound itself in the stays of a connecting poetic 
—sometimes even philosophic— program. 

Every motive— so it seems to me— contains, like a seed, its 
life-germ within itself. From the different plant-seeds grow differ- 
ent families of plants, dissimilar in form, foliage, blossom, fruit, 
growth and color. 1 

Even each individual plant belonging to one and the same 
species assumes, in size, form and strength, a growth peculiar to 
itself. And so, in each motive, there lies the embryo of its fully 
developed form; each one must unfold itself differently, yet each 
obediently follows the law of eternal harmony. This form is 
imperishable, though each be unlike every other. 

The motive in a composition with program bears within 
itself the same natural necessity; but it must, even in its earliest 
phase of development, renounce its own proper mode of growth 
to mould— or, rather, twist— itself to fit the needs of the program. 
Thus turned aside, at the outset, from the path traced by nature, 
it finally arrives at a wholly unexpected climax, whither it has 
been led, not by its own organization, but by the way laid down 
in the program, or the action, or the philosophical idea. 

And how primitive must this art remain! True, there are 
unequivocal descriptive effects of tone-painting (from these the 
entire principle took its rise), but these means of expression are 
few and trivial, covering but a very small section of musical art. 
Begin with the most self-evident of all, the debasement of Tone 
to Noise in imitating the sounds of Nature— the rolling of thun- 
der, the roar of forests, the cries of animals; then those somewhat 
less evident, symbolic— imitations of visual impressions, like the 
lightning-flash, springing movement, the flight of birds; again, 

i ". . . Beethoven, dont les esquisses thematiques ou elementaires sont 
innombrables, mais qui, sitot les themes trouves, semble par cela meme en 
avoir etabli tout le developpement . . ." [Vincent d' Indy, in "Cesar Franck."] 



82 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

those intelligible only through the mediation of the reflective 
brain, such as the trumpet-call as a warlike symbol, the shawm 
to betoken ruralism, march-rhythm to signify measured strides, 
the chorale as vehicle for religious feeling. Add to the above the 
characterization of nationalities— national instruments and airs— 
and we have a complete inventory of the arsenal of program- 
music. Movement and repose, minor and major, high and low, in 
their customary significance, round out the list.— These are auxil- 
iaries, of which good use can be made upon a broad canvas, but 
which, taken by themselves, are no more to be called music than 
wax figures may pass for monuments. 

And, after all, what can the presentation of a little happen- 
ing upon this earth, the report concerning an annoying neighbor 
—no matter whether in the next room or in an adjoining quarter 
of the globe— have in common with that music which pervades 
the universe? 

To music, indeed, it is given to set in vibration our human 
moods: Dread (Leporello), oppression of soul, invigoration, 
lassitude (Beethoven's last Quartets), decision (Wotan), hesita- 
tion, despondency, encouragement, harshness, tenderness, excite- 
ment, tranquillization, the feeling of surprise or expectancy, and 
still others; likewise the inner echo of external occurrences which 
is bound up in these moods of the soul. But not the moving 
cause itself of these spiritual affections;— not the joy over an 
avoided danger, not the danger itself, or the kind of danger 
which caused the dread; an emotional state, yes, but not the 
psychic species of this emotion, such as envy, or jealousy; and it 
is equally futile to attempt the expression, through music, of 
moral characteristics (vanity, cleverness), or abstract ideas like 
truth and justice. Is it possible to imagine how a poor, but con- 
tented man could be represented by music? The contentment, 
the soul-state, can be interpreted by music; but where does the 
poverty appear, or the important ethic problem stated in the 
words "poor, but contented"? This is due to the fact that "poor" 
connotes a phase of terrestrial and social conditions not to be 
found in the eternal harmony. And Music is a part of the vibra- 
ting universe. 



What Music Expresses 83 

I may be allowed to subjoin a few subsidiary reflections: — 
The greater part of modern theatre music suffers from the mis- 
take of seeking to repeat the scenes passing on the stage, instead 
of fulfilling its own proper mission of interpreting the soul-states 
of the persons represented. When the scene presents the illusion 
of a thunderstorm, this is exhaustively apprehended by the eye. 
Nevertheless, nearly all composers strive to depict the storm in 
tones— which is not only a needless and feebler repetition, but 
likewise a failure to perform their true function. The person on 
the stage is either psychically influenced by the thunderstorm, 
or his mood, being absorbed in a train of thought of stronger 
influence, remains unaffected. The storm is visible and audible 
without aid from music; it is the invisible and inaudible, the 
spiritual processes of the personages portrayed, which music 
should render intelligible. 

Again, there are "obvious" psychic conditions on the stage, 
whereof music need take no account. Suppose a theatrical situ- 
ation in which a convivial company is passing at night and 
disappears from view, while in the foreground a silent, enven- 
omed duel is in progress. Here the music, by means of continuing 
song, should keep in mind the jovial company now lost to sight; 
the acts and feelings of the pair in the foreground may be under- 
stood without further commentary, and the music— dramatically 
speaking— ought not to participate in their action and break the 
tragic silence. 

Measurably justified, in my opinion, is the plan of the old 
opera, which concentrated and musically rounded out the pas- 
sions aroused by a moving dramatic scene in a piece of set form 
(the aria). Word and stage-play conveyed the dramatic progress 
of the action, followed more or less meagrely by musical recita- 
tive; arrived at the point of rest, music resumed the reins. This 
is less extrinsic than some would now have us believe. On the 
other hand, it was the ossified form of the "aria" itself which 
led to inveracity of expression and decadence. 



84 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

4 

The audible presentation, the "perform- 
ance," of music, its emotional interpretation, derives from those 
free heights whence descended the Art itself. Where the art is 
threatened by earthliness, it is the part of interpretation to raise 
it and reendow it with its primordial essence. 

Notation, the writing out of compositions, is primarily an 
ingenious expedient for catching an inspiration, with the pur- 
pose of exploiting it later. But notation is to improvisation as 
the portrait to the living model. It is for the interpreter to 
resolve the rigidity of the signs into the primitive emotion. 

But the lawgivers require the interpreter to reproduce the 
rigidity of the signs; they consider his reproduction the nearer 
to perfection, the more closely it clings to the signs.— 

What the composer's inspiration necessarily loses 1 through 
notation, his interpreter should restore by his own. 

To the lawgivers, the signs themselves are the most impor- 
tant matter, and are continually growing in their estimation; the 
new art of music is derived from the old signs— and these now 
stand for musical art itself. 

If the lawgivers had their way, any given composition would 
always be reproduced in precisely the same tempo, whensoever, 

l How strongly notation influences style in music, and fetters imagina- 
tion, how "form" grew up out of it and from form arose "conventionalism" 
in expression, is shown very convincingly and avenges itself in tragic wise 
in E. T. A. Hoffmann, who occurs to me here as a typical example. 

This remarkable man's mental conceptions, lost in visionary moods 
and revelling in transcendentalism, as his writings set forth in oft inimitable 
fashion, must naturally — so one would infer — have found in the dreamlike 
and transcendental art of tones a language and mode of expression peculiarly 
congenial. 

The veil of mysticism, the secret harmonies of Nature, the thrill of 
the supernatural, the twilight vagueness of the borderland of dreams, every- 
thing, in fact, which he so effectively limned with the precision of words 
— all this, one would suppose, he could have interpreted to fullest effect by 
the aid of music. And yet, comparing Hoffmann's best musical work with 
the weakest of his literary productions, you will discover to your sorrow 
how a conventional system of measures, periods and keys — whereto the 
hackneyed opera-style of the time adds its share — could turn a poet into 
a Philistine. But that his fancy cherished another ideal of music, we learn 
from many, and frequently admirable, observations of Hoffmann the 
litterateur. 



Notation and Transcription 85 

by whomsoever, and under whatsoever conditions it might be 
performed. 

But, it is not possible; the buoyant, expansive nature of the 
divine child rebels— it demands the opposite. Each day begins 
differently from the preceding, yet always with the flush of dawn. 
—Great artists play their own works differently at each repeti- 
tion, remodel them on the spur of the moment, accelerate and 
retard, in a way which they could not indicate by signs— and 
always according to the given conditions of that "eternal har- 
mony." 

And then the lawgiver chafes, and refers the creator to his 
own handwriting. As matters stand to-day, the lawgiver has the 
best of the argument. 

"Notation" ("writing down") brings up the subject of 
Transcription, nowadays a term much misunderstood, almost 
discreditable. The frequent antagonism which I have excited 
with "transcriptions," and the opposition to which an ofttimes 
irrational criticism has provoked me, caused me to seek a clear 
understanding of this point. My final conclusion concerning it is 
this: Every notation is, in itself, the transcription of an abstract 
idea. The instant the pen seizes it, the idea loses its original 
form. The very intention to write down the idea, compels a 
choice of measure and key. The form, and the musical agency, 
which the composer must decide upon, still more closely define 
the way and the limits. 

It is much the same as with man himself. Born naked, and 
as yet without definite aspirations, he decides, or at a given 
moment is made to decide, upon a career. From the moment of 
decision, although much that is original and imperishable in 
the idea or the man may live on, either is depressed to the type 
of a class. The musical idea becomes a sonata or a concerto; the 
man, a soldier or a priest. That is an Arrangement of the 
original. From this first transcription to a second the step is 
comparatively short and unimportant. And yet it is only the 
second, in general, of which any notice is taken; overlooking the 
fact, that a transcription does not destroy the archetype, which 
is, therefore, not lost through transcription. 

Again, the performance of a work is also a transcription, and 



86 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

still, whatever liberties it may take, it can never annihilate the 
original. 

For the musical art-work exists, before its tones resound 
and after they die away, complete and intact. It exists both 
within and outside of time, and through its nature we can obtain 
a definite conception of the otherwise intangible notion of the 
Ideality of Time. 

For the rest, most of Beethoven's piano compositions sound 
like transcriptions of orchestral works; most of Schumann's or- 
chestral compositions, like arrangements from pieces for the 
piano— and they are so, in a way. 

Strangely enough, the Variation-Form is highly esteemed 
by the Worshippers of the Letter. That is singular; for the 
variation-form— when built up on a borrowed theme— produces 
a whole series of "arrangements" which, besides, are least respect- 
ful when most ingenious. 

So the arrangement is not good, because it varies the origi- 
nal; and the variation is good, although it "arranges" the 
original. 



The term "musikalisch" (musical) is 
used by the Germans in a sense foreign to that in which any 
other language employs it. 1 It is a conception belonging to the 
Germans, and not to culture in general; the expression is in- 
correct and untranslatable. "Musical" is derived from music, like 
"poetical" from poetry, or "physical" from physic (s). When I say, 
"Schubert was one of the most musical among men," it is the 
same as if I should say, "Helmholtz was one of the most physical 
among men." That is musical, which sounds in rhythms and in- 
tervals. A cupboard can be "musical," if "music-works" be en- 
closed in it. 2 In a comparative sense, "musical" may have the fur- 

i The author probably had in mind the languages of southern Europe; 
the word is employed in English, and in the tongues of the Scandinavian 
group, with precisely the same meaning as in German. [Translator's Note.] 

2 The only kind of people one might properly call musical, are the 
singers; for they themselves can sound. Similarly, a clown who by some 
trick produces tones when he is touched, might be called a pseudo-musical 
person. 



What Is Musical? 87 

ther signification of "euphonious."— "My verses are too musical 
to bear setting to music," a noted poet once remarked to me. 

"Spirits moving musically 
To a lute's well-tuned law," 

writes Edgar Allan Poe. Lastly, one may speak quite correctly of 
"musical laughter," because it sounds like music. 

Taking the signification in which the term is applied and 
almost exclusively employed in German, a musical person is 
one who manifests an inclination for music by a nice discrimi- 
nation and sensitiveness with regard to the technical aspects of 
the art. By "technics" I mean rhythm, harmony, intonation, 
part-leading, and the treatment of themes. The more subtleties 
he is capable of hearing or reproducing in these, the more 
"musical" he is held to be. 

In view of the great importance attached to these elements 
of the art, this "musical" temperament has naturally become of 
the highest consequence. And so an artist who plays with perfect 
technical finish should be deemed the most musical player. But 
as we mean by "technics" only the mechanical mastery of the 
instrument, the terms "technical" and "musical" have been 
turned into opposites. 

The matter has been carried so far as to call a composition 
itself "musical," 1 or even to assert of a great composer like 
Berlioz that he was not sufficiently musical. 2 "Unmusical" con- 
veys the strongest reproach; branded thus, its object becomes an 
outlaw. 3 

In a country like Italy, where all participate in the delights 
of music, this differentiation becomes superfluous, and the term 
corresponding is not found in the language. In France, where 
a living sense of music does not permeate the people, there are 
musicians and non-musicians; of the rest, some "are very fond 
of music," and others "do not care for it." Only in Germany is it 
made a point of honor to be "musical," that is to say, not merely 
to love music, but more especially to understand it as regards 

i "But these pieces are so musical," a violinist once remarked to me 
of a four-hand worklet which I had characterized as trivial. 

2 "My dog is very musical," I have heard said in all seriousness. 
Should the dog take precedence of Berlioz? 

3 Such has been my own fate. 



88 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

its technical means of expression, and to obey their rules. 

A thousand hands support the buoyant child and solicit- 
ously attend its footsteps, that it may not soar aloft where there 
might be risk of a serious fall. But it is still so young, and is 
eternal; the day of its freedom will come.— When it shall cease 
to be "musical." 



The creator should take over no tradi- 
tional law in blind belief, which would make him view his own 
creative endeavor, from the outset, as an exception contrasting 
with that law. For his individual case he should seek out and 
formulate a fitting individual law, which, after the first complete 
realization, he should annul, that he himself may not be drawn 
into repetitions when his next work shall be in the making. 

The function of the creative artist consists in making laws, 
not in following laws ready made. He who follows such laws, 
ceases to be a creator. 

Creative power may be the more readily recognized, the 
more it shakes itself loose from tradition. But an intentional 
avoidance of the rules cannot masquerade as creative power, and 
still less engender it. 

The true creator strives, in reality, after perfection only. 
And through bringing this into harmony with his own individu- 
ality, a new law arises without premeditation. 

So narrow has our tonal range become, so stereotyped its 
form of expression, that nowadays there is not one familiar 
motive that cannot be fitted with some other familiar motive 
so that the two may be played simultaneously. Not to lose my 
way in trifling, 1 I shall refrain from giving examples. 

i With a friend I once indulged in such trifling in order to ascertain 
how many commonly known compositions were written according to the 
scheme of the second theme in the Adagio of the Ninth Symphony. In a few 
moments we had collected some fifteen analogues of the most different 
kinds, among them specimens of the lowest type of art. And Beethoven 
himself: — Is the theme of the Finale in the "Fifth" any other than the 
one wherewith the "Second" introduces its Allegro? — or than the principal 
theme of the Third Piano Concerto, only in minor? 



Music, and Signs for Music 89 

That which, within our present-day music, most nearly 
approaches the essential nature of the art, is the Rest and the 
Hold (Pause). Consummate players, improvisers, know how to 
employ these instruments of expression in loftier and ampler 
measure. The tense silence between two movements— in itself 
music, in this environment— leaves wider scope for divination 
than the more determinate, but therefore less elastic, sound. 

What we now call our Tonal System is nothing more than 
a set of "signs"; an ingenious device to grasp somewhat of that 
eternal harmony; a meagre pocket-edition of that encyclopedic 
work; artificial light instead of the sun.— Have you ever noticed 
how people gaze open-mouthed at the brilliant illumination of 
a hall? They never do so at the millionfold brighter sunshine of 
noonday.— 

And so, in music, the signs have assumed greater conse- 
quence than that which they ought to stand for, and can only 
suggest. 

How important, indeed, are "Third," "Fifth," and "Oc- 
tave"! How strictly we divide "consonances" from "dissonances" 
—in a sphere where no dissonances can possibly exist! 

We have divided the octave into twelve equidistant degrees, 
because we had to manage somehow, and have constructed our 
instruments in such a way that we can never get in above or 
below or between them. Keyboard instruments, in particular, 
have so thoroughly schooled our ears that we are no longer 
capable of hearing anything else— incapable of hearing except 
through this impure medium. Yet Nature created an infinite 
gradation— infinite! who still knows it nowadays? 1 

i "The equal temperament of 12 degrees, which was discussed theoreti- 
cally as early as about 1500, but not established as a principle until shortly 
before 1700 (by Andreas Werkmeister), divides the octave into twelve equal 
portions (semitones, hence 'twelve-semitone system') through which mean 
values are obtained; no interval is perfectly pure, but all are fairly 
serviceable." (Riemann, "Musik-Lexikon.") Thus, through Andreas Werk- 
meister, this master-workman in art, we have gained the "twelve-semitone" 
system with intervals which are all impure, but fairly serviceable. But 
what is "pure," and what "impure"? We hear a piano "gone out of tune," 
and whose intervals may thus have become "pure, but unserviceable," 
and it sounds impure to us. The diplomatic "Twelve-semitone system" is 
an invention mothered by necessity; yet none the less do we sedulously 
guard its imperfections. 



90 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

And within this duodecimal octave we have marked out a 
series of fixed intervals, seven in number, and founded thereon 
our entire art of music. What do I say— one series? Two such 
series, one for each leg: The Major and Minor Scales. When we 
start this series of intervals on some other degree of our semitonic 
ladder, we obtain a new key, and a "foreign" one, at that! How 
violently contracted a system arose from this initial confusion, 1 
may be read in the law-books; we will not repeat it here. 

We teach four-and-twenty keys, twelve times the two Series 
of Seven; but, in point of fact, we have at our command only 
two, the major key and the minor key. The rest are merely trans- 
positions. By means of the several transpositions we are supposed 
to get different shades of harmony; but this is an illusion. In 
England, under the reign of the high "concert pitch," the most 
familiar works may be played a semitone higher than they are 
written, without changing their effect. Singers transpose an aria 
to suit their convenience, leaving untransposed what precedes 
and follows. Songwriters not infrequently publish their own com- 
positions in three different pitches; in all three editions the 
pieces are precisely alike. 

When a well-known face looks out of a window, it matters 
not whether it gazes down from the first story or the third. 

Were it feasible to elevate or depress a landscape, far as 
eye can reach, by several hundred yards, the pictorial impression 
would neither gain nor lose by it. 

Upon the two Series of Seven, the major key and the minor 
key, the whole art of music has been established; one limitation 
brings on the other. 

To each of these a definite character has been attributed; 
we have learned and have taught that they should be heard as 
contrasts, and they have gradually acquired the significance of 
symbols:— Major and Minor— Maggiore e Minore— Contentment 
and Discontent— Joy and Sorrow— Light and Shade. The har- 
monic symbols have fenced in the expression of music, from 
Bach to Wagner, and yet further on until to-day and the day 
after to-morrow. Minor is employed with the same intention, and 

i It is termed "The Science of Harmony." 



Major and Minor 91 

has the same effect upon us now, as two hundred years ago. Now- 
adays it is no longer possible to "compose" a funeral march, for it 
already exists, once for all. Even the least informed non-profes- 
sional knows what to expect when a funeral march— whichever you 
please— is to be played. Even such an one can anticipate the 
difference between a symphony in major and one in minor. We 
are tyrannized by Major and Minor— by the bifurcated garment. 

Strange, that one should feel major and minor as opposites. 
They both present the same face, now more joyous, now more 
serious; and a mere touch of the brush suffices to turn the one 
into the other. The passage from either to the other is easy and 
imperceptible; when it occurs frequently and swiftly, the two 
begin to shimmer and coalesce indistinguishably.— But when we 
recognize that major and minor form one Whole with a double 
meaning, and that the "four-and-twenty keys" are simply an 
elevenfold transposition of the original twain, we arrive uncon- 
strainedly at a perception of the unity of our system of keys 
[tonality]. The conceptions of "related" and "foreign" keys 
vanish, and with them the entire intricate theory of degrees and 
relations. We possess one single key. But it is of most meagre 
sort. 

"Unity of the key-system." 

—"I suppose you mean that 'key' and 'key-system' are the 
sunbeam and its diffraction into colors?" 

No; that I can not mean. For our whole system of tone, key, 
and tonality, taken in its entirety, is only a part of a fraction of 
one diffracted ray from that Sun, "Music," in the empyrean of 
the "eternal harmony." 

However deeply rooted the attachment to the habitual, and 
inertia, may be in the ways and nature of humankind, in equal 
measure are energy, and opposition to the existing order, charac- 
teristic of all that has life. Nature has her wiles, and persuades 
man, obstinately opposed though he be to progress and change; 
Nature progresses continually and changes unremittingly, but 
with so even and unnoticeable movement that men perceive only 



92 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

quiescence. Only on looking backward from a distance do they 
note with astonishment that they have been deceived. 

The Reformer of any given period excites irritation for the 
reason that his changes find men unprepared, and, above all, 
because these changes are appreciable. The Reformer, in com- 
parison with Nature, is undiplomatic; and, as a wholly logical 
consequence, his changes do not win general acceptance until 
Time, with subtle, imperceptible advance, has bridged over the 
leap of the self-assured leader. Yet we find cases in which the 
reformer marched abreast of the times, while the rest fell behind. 
And then they have to be forced and lashed to take the leap 
across the passage they have missed. I believe that the major-and- 
minor key with its transpositional relations, our "twelve-semitone 
system," exhibits such a case of falling behind. 

That some few have already felt how the intervals of the 
Series of Seven might be differently arranged (graduated) is 
manifested in isolated passages by Liszt, and recently by Debussy 
and his following, and even by Richard Strauss. Strong impulse, 
longing, gifted instinct, all speak from these strains. Yet it does 
not appear to me that a conscious and orderly conception of 
this intensified means of expression had been formed by these 
composers. 

I have made an attempt to exhaust the possibilities of the 
arrangement of degrees within the seven-tone scale; and suc- 
ceeded, by raising and lowering the intervals, in establishing one 
hundred and thirteen different scales. These 113 scales (within 
the octave C—C) comprise the greater part of our familiar twenty- 
four keys, and, furthermore, a series of new keys of peculiar 
character. But with these the mine is not exhausted, for we are at 
liberty to transpose, each one of these 113, besides the blending 
of two such keys in harmony and melody. 

There is a significant difference between the sound of the 
scale c-d\)-e\)-f\)-g\)-a\)-b\)-c when c is taken as tonic, and the scale 
of d\) minor. By giving it the customary C-major triad as a 
fundamental harmony, a novel harmonic sensation is obtained. 
But now listen to this same scale supported alternately by the 
,4-minor, £|?-major, and C-major triads, and you cannot avoid 



Infinite Harmony 93 

a feeling of delightful surprise at the strangely unfamiliar 
euphony. 

But how would a lawgiver classify the tone-series c-d\)-e\)-f\)- 
g-a-b-c, c-db-eb-f-gfra-b-c, c-d-e^-g^-a-b-c, c-d^-e-f-g^-a-b^-c? - or 
these, forsooth: c-d-e\)-f\)-g-a$-b-c, c-d-e\)-]\)-g%-a-b-c , c-d\)-e\)-f%-g% 
-a-b\)-c? 

One cannot estimate at a glance what wealth of melodic 
and harmonic expression would thus be opened up to the 
hearing; but a great many novel possibilities may be accepted 
as certain, and are perceptible at a glance. 

With this presentation, the unity of all keys may be con- 
sidered as finally pronounced and justified. A kaleidoscopic 
blending and interchanging of twelve semitones within the three- 
mirror tube of Taste, Emotion, and Intention— the essential 
feature of the harmony of to-day. 

The harmony of to-day, and not for long; for all signs 
presage a revolution, and a next step toward that "eternal har- 
mony." Let us once again call to mind, that in this latter the 
gradation of the octave is infinite, and let us strive to draw a 
little nearer to infinitude. The tripartite tone (third of a tone) 
has for some time been demanding admittance, and we have left 
the call unheeded. Whoever has experimented, like myself (in 
a modest way), with this interval, and introduced (either with 
voice or with violin) two equidistant intermediate tones between 
the extremes of a whole tone, schooling his ear and his precision 
of attack, will not have failed to discern that tripartite tones are 
wholly independent intervals with a pronounced character, and 
not to be confounded with ill-tuned semitones. They form a 
refinement in chromatics based, as at present appears, on the 
whole-tone scale. Were we to adopt them without further prepar- 
ation, we should have to give up the semi-tones and lose our 
"minor third" and "perfect fifth;" and this loss would be felt 
more keenly than the relative gain of a system of eighteen one- 
third tones. 

But there is no apparent reason for giving up the semitones 
for the sake of this new system. By retaining, for each whole 
tone, a semitone, we obtain a second series of whole tones lying 



94 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

a semitone higher than the original series. Then, by dividing 
this second series of whole tones into third-tones, each third-tone 
in the lower series will be matched by a semitone in the higher 
series. 

Thus we have really arrived at a system of whole tones 
divided into sixths of a tone; and we may be sure that even 
sixth-tones will sometime be adopted into musical speech. But 
the tonal system above sketched must first of all train the hearing 
to thirds of a tone, without giving up the semitones. 

To summarize: We may set up either two series of third- 
tones, with an interval of a semitone between the series; or, the 
usual semitonic series thrice repeated at the interval of one-third 
of a tone. 

Merely for the sake of distinction, let us call the first tone C, 
and the next third-tones CJ, and Dfo; the first semitone (small) 
c, and its following thirds cj and dfo; the result is fully ex- 
plained by the table below: 



Hi 



$& 



SSL 



cS 



db 



as 



eb 



eS 



rb 



f| 



gfr 



gS 



ab 



aj 



bt> 



9 



Cf 



Dfr 



D* 



Bb 



EJ 



Ft> 



F* 



Gb 



|c=: 



Q 



GS 



Ab 



A* 



Bb 



5= 



etc 



A preliminary expedient for notation might be, to draw six 
lines for the staff, using the lines for the whole tones and the 
spaces for the semitones: 



- m SSI 



then indicating the third-tones by sharps and flats: 



etc. 



=K 



? ^p& 



aa g ys 



brj rj %" £. 



\> m * %m- 



The question of notation seems to me subordinate. On the 
other hand, the question is important and imperious, how and 
on what these tones are to be produced. Fortunately, while 
busied with this essay, I received from America direct and 



Nietzsche and German Music 95 

authentic intelligence which solves the problem in a simple 
manner. I refer to an invention by Dr. Thaddeus Cahill. 1 He 
has constructed a comprehensive apparatus which makes it 
possible to transform an electric current into a fixed and mathe- 
matically exact number of vibrations. As pitch depends on the 
number of vibrations, and the apparatus may be "set" on any 
number desired, the infinite gradation of the octave may be 
accomplished by merely moving a lever corresponding to the 
pointer of a quadrant. 

Only a long and careful series of experiments, and a con- 
tinued training of the ear, can render this unfamiliar material 
approachable and plastic for the coming generation, and for Art. 

And what a vista of fair hopes and dreamlike fancies is thus 
opened for them both! Who has not dreamt that he could float 
on air? and firmly believed his dream to be reality?— Let us take 
thought, how music may be restored to its primitive, natural 
essence; let us free it from architectonic, acoustic and esthetic 
dogmas; let it be pure invention and sentiment, in harmonies, 
in forms, in tone-colors (for invention and sentiment are not 
the prerogative of melody alone); let it follow the line of the 
rainbow and vie with the clouds in breaking sunbeams; let Music 
be naught else than Nature mirrored by and reflected from the 
human breast; for it is sounding air and floats above and beyond 
the air; within Man himself as universally and absolutely as in 
Creation entire; for it can gather together and disperse without 
losing in intensity. 



In his book "Beyond the Good and the 
Bad" (Jenseits von Gut und Bose) Nietzsche says: "With regard 
to German music I consider precaution necessary in various ways. 

i "New Music for an Old World." Dr. Thaddeus Cahill's Dynamophone, 
an extraordinary electrical invention for producing scientifically perfect music. 
Article in McClure's Magazine for July, 1906, by Ray Stannard Baker. Read- 
ers interested in the details of this invention are referred to the above- 
mentioned magazine article. 



96 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

Assuming that a person loves the South (as I love it) as a great 
training-school for health of soul and sense in their highest 
potency, as an uncontrollable flood and glamour of sunshine 
spreading over a race of independent and self-reliant beings;— 
well, such an one will learn to be more or less on his guard 
against German music, because while spoiling his taste anew, it 
undermines his health. 

"Such a Southlander (not by descent, but by belief) must, 
should he dream of the future of music, likewise dream of a 
redemption of music from the North, while in his ears there 
rings the prelude to a deeper, mightier, perchance a more evil 
and more mysterious music, a super-German music, which does 
not fade, wither and die away in view of the blue, sensuous sea 
and the splendor of Mediterranean skies, as all German music 
does;— a super-European music, that asserts itself even amid the 
tawny sunsets of the desert, whose soul is allied with the palm- 
tree, and can consort and prowl with great, beautiful, lonely 
beasts of prey. 

"I could imagine a music whose rarest charm should consist 
in its complete divorce from the Good and the Bad;— only that 
its surface might be ruffled, as it were, by a longing as of a sailor 
for home, by variable golden shadows and tender frailties:— an 
Art which should see fleeing toward it, from afar off, the hues of 
a perishing moral world become wellnigh incomprehensible, and 
which should be hospitable and profound enough to harbor 
such belated fugitives." 

And Tolstoi transmutes a landscape-impression into a musi- 
cal impression when he writes, in "Lucerne": "Neither on the 
lake, nor on the mountains, nor in the skies, a single straight 
line, a single unmixed color, a single point of repose;— everywhere 
movement, irregularity, caprice, variety, an incessant interplay 
of shades and lines, and in it all the reposefulness, softness, har- 
mony and inevitableness of Beauty." 

Will this music ever be attained? 

"Not all reach Nirvana; but he who, gifted from the begin- 
ning, learns everything that one ought to learn, experiences all 
that one should experience, renounces what one should renounce, 
develops what one should develop, realizes what one should 



Feeling 97 

realize— he shall reach Nirvana." 1 (Kern, Geschichte des Buddhis- 
mus in Indien.) 

If Nirvana be the realm "beyond the Good and the Bad," 
one way leading thither is here pointed out. A way to the very 
portal. To the bars that divide Man from Eternity— or that open 
to admit that which was temporal. Beyond that portal sounds 
music. Not the strains of "musical art." 2 — It may be, that we 
must leave Earth to find that music. But only to the pilgrim who 
has succeeded on the way in freeing himself from earthly shackles, 
shall the bars open. 



Addenda 

8 

Feeling— like honesty— is a moral point 
of honor, an attribute of whose possession no one will permit 
denial, which claims a place in life and art alike. But while, in 
life, a want of feeling may be forgiven to the possessor of a more 
brilliant attribute, such as bravery or impartial justice, in art 
feeling is held to be the highest moral qualification. 

In music, however, feeling requires two consorts, taste and 
style. Now, in life, one encounters real taste as seldom as deep 
and true feeling; as for style, it is a province of art. What re- 
mains, is a species of pseudo-emotion which must be character- 
ized as lachrymose hysteria or turgidity. And, above all, people 
insist upon having it plainly paraded before their eyes! It must 
be underscored, so that everybody shall stop, look, and listen. 
The audience sees it, greatly magnified, thrown on the screen, 
so that it dances before the vision in vague, importunate vast- 
ness; it is cried on the streets, to summon them that dwell re- 

i As if anticipating my thoughts, M. Vincent d'Indy has just written 
me: ". . . laissant de cote les contingences et les petitesses de la vie pour 
regarder constamment vers un ideal qu'on ne pourra jamais atteindre, mais 
dont il est permis de se rapprocher." 

2 I think I have read, somewhere, that Liszt confined his Dante 
Symphony to the two movements, Inferno and Purgatorio, "because our 
tone-speech is inadequate to express the felicities of Paradise." 



98 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

mote from art; it is gilded, to make the destitute stare in amaze. 

For in life, too, the expressions of feeling, by mien and 
words, are oftenest employed; rarer, and more genuine, is that 
feeling which acts without talk; and most precious is the feeling 
which hides itself. 

"Feeling" is generally understood to mean tenderness, 
pathos, and extravagance, of expression. But how much more 
does the marvelous flower "Emotion" enfold! Restraint and for- 
bearance, renunciation, power, activity, patience, magnanimity, 
joyousness, and that all-controlling intelligence wherein feeling 
actually takes its rise. 

It is not otherwise in Art, which holds the mirror up to 
Life; and still more outspokenly in Music, which repeats the 
emotions of Life— though for this, as I have said, taste and style 
must be added; Style, which distinguishes Art from Life. 

What the amateur and the mediocre artist attempt to ex- 
press, is feeling in little, in detail, for a short stretch. 

Feeling on a grand scale is mistaken by the amateur, the 
semi-artist, the public (and the critics too, unhappily!), for a 
want of emotion, because they all are unable to hear the longer 
reaches as parts of a yet more extended whole. Feeling, therefore, 
is likewise economy. 

Hence, I distinguish feeling as Taste, as Style, as Economy. 
Each a whole in itself, and each one-third of the Whole. Within 
and over them rules a subjective trinity: Temperament, Intelli- 
gence, and the instinct of Equipoise. 

These six carry on a dance of such subtility in the choice of 
partners and intertwining of figures, in the bearing and the 
being borne, in advancing and curtseying, in motion and repose, 
that no loftier height of artistry is conceivable. 

When the chords of the two triads are in perfect tune, Fan- 
tasy may— nay, must— associate with Feeling; supported by the 
Six, she will not degenerate, and out of this combination of all 
the elements arises Individuality. The individuality catches, like 
a lens, the light-impressions, reflects them, according to its na- 
ture, as a negative, and the hearer perceives the true picture. 

In so far as taste participates in feeling, the latter— like all 
else— alters its forms of expression with the period. That is, one 



"Depth" in Music 99 

aspect or another of feeling will be favored at one time or an- 
other, onesidedly cultivated, especially developed. Thus, with 
and after Wagner, voluptuous sensuality came to the fore; the 
form of intensification of passion is still unsurmounted by con- 
temporary composers. On every tranquil beginning followed a 
swift upward surge. Wagner, in this point insatiable, but not in- 
exhaustible, turned from sheer necessity to the expedient, after 
reaching a climax, of starting afresh softly, to soar to a sudden 
new intensification. 

Modern French writers exhibit a revulsion; their feeling is 
a reflective chastity, or perhaps rather a restrained sensualism; 
the upstriving mountain-paths of Wagner are succeeded by 
monotonous plains of twilight uniformity. 

Thus "style" forms itself out of feeling, when led by taste. 

The "Apostles of the Ninth Symphony" have devised the 
notion of "depth" in music. It is still current at face-value, es- 
pecially in Germanic lands. 

There is a depth of feeling, and a depth of thought; the 
latter is literary, and can have no application to tones. Depth 
of feeling, by contrast, is psychical, and thoroughly germane to 
the nature of music. The Apostles of the Ninth Symphony have 
a peculiar and not quite clearly defined estimate of "depth" in 
music. Depth becomes breadth, and the attempt is made to at- 
tain it through weight; it then discovers itself (through an as- 
sociation of ideas) by a preference for a deep register, and (as I 
have had opportunity to observe) by the insinuation of a second, 
mysterious notion, usually of a literary sort. If these are not the 
sole specific signs, they are the most important ones. 

To every disciple of philosophy, however, depth of feeling 
would seem to imply exhaustiveness in feeling, a complete ab- 
sorption in the given mood. 

Whoever, surrounded by the full tide of a genuine carnival 
crowd, slinks about morosely or even indifferently, neither af- 
fected nor carried away by the tremendous self-satire of mask and 
motley, by the might of misrule over law, by the vengeful feel- 
ing of wit running riot, shows himself incapable of sounding the 
depths of feeling. This gives further confirmation of the fact, 
that depth of feeling roots in a complete absorption in the given 



100 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

mood, however frivolous, and blossoms in the interpretation of 
that mood; whereas the current conception of deep feeling singles 
out only one aspect of feeling in man, and specializes that. 

In the so-called "Champagne Aria" in Don Giovanni there 
lies more "depth" than in many a funeral march or nocturne:— 
Depth of feeling also shows in not wasting it on subordinate or 
unimportant matters. 



Routine is highly esteemed and fre- 
quently required; in musical "officialdom" it is a sine qua non. 
That routine in music should exist at all, and, furthermore, that 
it can be nominated as a condition in the musician's bond, is 
another proof of the narrow confines of our musical art. Routine 
signifies the acquisition of a modicum of experience and artcraft, 
and their application to all cases which may occur; hence, there 
must be an astounding number of analogous cases. Now, I like 
to imagine a species of art-praxis wherein each case should be a 
new one, an exception! How helpless and impotent would the 
army of practical musicians stand before it!— in the end they 
would surely beat a retreat, and disappear. Routine transforms 
the temple of art into a factory. It destroys creativeness. For 
creation means, the bringing form out of the void; whereas rou- 
tine flourishes on imitation. It is "poetry made to order." It rules 
because it suits the generality: In the theatre, in the orchestra, 
in virtuosi, in instruction. One longs to exclaim, "Avoid routine! 
Let each beginning be, as had none been before! Know nothing, 
but rather think and feel! For, behold, the myriad strains that 
once shall sound have existed since the beginning, ready, afloat 
in the aether, and together with them other myriads that shall 
never be heard. Only stretch forth your hands, and ye shall grasp 
a blossom, a breath of the sea-breeze, a sunbeam; avoid routine, 
for it strives to grasp only that wherewith your four walls are 
filled, and the same over and over again; the spirit of ease so 
infects you, that you will scarcely leave your armchairs, and will 
lay hold only of what is nearest to hand. And myriad strains are 
there since the beginning, still waiting for manifestation!" 



Respect the Pianoforte! 101 

"It is my misfortune, to possess no routine," Wagner once 
wrote Liszt, when the composition of "Tristan" was making no 
progress. Thus Wagner deceived himself, and wore a mask for 
others. He had too much routine, and his composing-machinery 
was thrown out of gear, just when a tangle formed in the mesh 
which only inspiration could unloose. True, Wagner found the 
clew when he succeeded in throwing off routine; but had he 
really never possessed it, he would have declared the fact without 
bitterness. And, after all, this sentence in Wagner's letter ex- 
presses the true artist-contempt for routine, inasmuch as he 
waives all claim to a qualification which he thinks meanly of, 
and takes care that others may not invest him with it. This self- 
praise he utters with a mien of ironic desperation. He is, in very 
truth, unhappy that composition is at a standstill, but finds rich 
consolation in the consciousness that his genius is above the 
cheap expedients of routine; at the same time, with an air of 
modesty, he sorrowfully confesses that he has not acquired a 
training belonging to the craft. 

The sentence is a masterpiece of the native cunning of the 
instinct of self-preservation; but equally proves— and that is our 
point— the pettiness of routine in creative work. 



10 

Respect the Pianoforte! Its disadvan- 
tages are evident, decided, and unquestionable: The lack of sus- 
tained tone, and the pitiless, unyielding adjustment of the 
inalterable semitonic scale. 

But its advantages and prerogatives approach the marvelous. 

It gives a single man command over something complete; in 
its potentialities from softest to loudest in one and the same 
register it excels all other instruments. The trumpet can blare, 
but not sigh; contrariwise the flute; the pianoforte can do both. 
Its range embraces the highest and deepest practicable tones. 
Respect the Pianoforte! 

Let doubters consider how the pianoforte was esteemed by 
Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, who dedicated their choicest 
thoughts to it. 



102 Busoni: A New Esthetic of Music 

And the pianoforte has one possession wholly peculiar to 
itself, an inimitable device, a photograph of the sky, a ray of 
moonlight— the Pedal. 

The effects of the pedal are unexhausted, because they have 
remained even to this day the drudges of a narrow-souled and 
senseless harmonic theory; the treatment accorded them is like 
trying to mould air or water into geometric forms. Beethoven, 
who incontestably achieved the greatest progress on and for the 
pianoforte, divined the mysteries of the pedal, and to him we 
owe the first liberties. 

The pedal is in ill-repute. For this, absurd irregularities 
must bear the blame. Let us experiment with sensible irregulari- 
ties. 



11 

"I felt . . . that the book I shall write will 
be neither in English nor in Latin; and this for the one reason 
. . . namely, that the language in which it may be given me not 
only to write, but also to think, will not be Latin, or English, 
or Italian, or Spanish, but a language not even one of whose 
words I know, a language in which dumb things speak to me, 
and in which, it may be, I shall at last have to respond in my 
grave to an Unknown Judge." 

(Von Hoffmanns thai: A letter.) 



Essays before a Sonata 



Charles E. Ives 



"These prefatory essays were written by the composer 
for those who can't stand his music — and the music for 
those who can't stand his essays; to those who can't 
stand either, the whole is respectfully dedicated." 

The following pages were written primarily as a preface or 
reason for the [writer's] second Pianoforte Sonata— "Concord, 
Mass., 1845,"— a group of four pieces, called a sonata for want 
of a more exact name, as the form, perhaps substance, does not 
justify it. The music and prefaces were intended to be printed 
together, but as it was found that this would make a cumber- 
some volume they are separate. The whole is an attempt to 
present [one person's] impression of the spirit of transcendental- 
ism that is associated in the minds of many with Concord, Mass., 
of over a half century ago. This is undertaken in impression- 
istic pictures of Emerson and Thoreau, a sketch of the Alcotts, 
and a Scherzo supposed to reflect a lighter quality which is often 
found in the fantastic side of Hawthorne. The first and last 
movements do not aim to give any programs of the life or of 
any particular work of either Emerson or Thoreau but rather 
composite pictures or impressions. They are, however, so general 
in outline that, from some viewpoints, they may be as far from 
accepted impressions (from true conceptions, for that matter) 
as the valuation which they purport to be of the influence of 
the life, thought, and character of Emerson and Thoreau is 
inadequate. 



104 



/ Prologue 

How far is anyone justified, be he an 
authority or a layman, in expressing or trying to express in 
terms of music (in sounds, if you like) the value of anything, 
material, moral, intellectual, or spiritual, which is usually ex- 
pressed in terms other than music? How far afield can music go 
and keep honest as well as reasonable or artistic? Is it a matter 
limited only by the composer's power of expressing what lies in 
his subjective or objective consciousness? Or is it limited by any 
limitations of the composer? Can a tune literally represent a 
stonewall with vines on it or with nothing on it, though it (the 
tune) be made by a genius whose power of objective contem- 
plation is in the highest state of development? Can it be done 
by anything short of an act of mesmerism on the part of the 
composer or an act of kindness on the part of the listener? Does 
the extreme materializing of music appeal strongly to anyone 
except to those without a sense of humor— or rather with a sense 
of humor?— or, except, possibly to those who might excuse it, 
as Herbert Spencer might by the theory that the sensational ele- 
ment (the sensations we hear so much about in experimental 
psychology) is the true pleasurable phenomenon in music and 
that the mind should not be allowed to interfere? Does the suc- 
cess of program music depend more upon the program than 
upon the music? If it does, what is the use of the music, if it 
does not, what is the use of the program? Does not its appeal 
depend to a great extent on the listener's willingness to accept 
the theory that music is the language of the emotions and only 
that? Or inversely does not this theory tend to limit music to 
programs?— a limitation as bad for music itself— for its whole- 
some progress,— as a diet of program music is bad for the lis- 
tener's ability to digest anything beyond the sensuous (or 
physical-emotional). To a great extent this depends on what is 
meant by emotion or on the assumption that the word as used 
above refers more to the expression, of, rather than to a mean- 

105 



106 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

ing in a deeper sense— which may be a feeling influenced by 
some experience perhaps of a spiritual nature in the expression 
of which the intellect has some part. "The nearer we get to the 
mere expression of emotion," says Professor Sturt in his Philos- 
ophy of Art and Personality, "as in the antics of boys who have 
been promised a holiday, the further we get away from art." 

On the other hand is not all music, program-music,— is not 
pure music, so called, representative in its essence? Is it not 
program-music raised to the nth power or rather reduced to the 
minus nth power? Where is the line to be drawn between the 
expression of subjective and objective emotion? It is easier to 
know what each is than when each becomes what it is. The 
"Separateness of Art" theory— that art is not life but a reflection 
of it— "that art is not vital to life but that life is vital to it," 
does not help us. Nor does Thoreau who says not that "life is 
art," but that "life is an art," which of course is a different thing 
than the foregoing. Tolstoi is even more helpless to himself and 
to us. For he eliminates further. From his definition of art we 
may learn little more than that a kick in the back is a work of 
art, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony is not. Experiences are 
passed on from one man to another. Abel knew that. And now 
we know it. But where is the bridge placed?— at the end of the 
road or only at the end of our vision? Is it all a bridge?— or is 
there no bridge because there is no gulf? Suppose that a com- 
poser writes a piece of music conscious that he is inspired, say, 
by witnessing an act of great self-sacrifice— another piece by the 
contemplation of a certain trait of nobility he perceives in a 
friend's character— and another by the sight of a mountain lake 
under moonlight. The first two, from an inspirational stand- 
point would naturally seem to come under the subjective and 
the last under the objective, yet the chances are, there is some- 
thing of the quality of both in all. There may have been in the 
first instance physical action so intense or so dramatic in char- 
acter that the remembrance of it aroused a great deal more 
objective emotion than the composer was conscious of while 
writing the music. In the third instance, the music may have 
been influenced strongly though subconsciously by a vague re- 
membrance of certain thoughts and feelings, perhaps of a deep 
religious or spiritual nature, which suddenly came to him upon 



Prologue 107 

realizing the beauty of the scene and which overpowered the 
first sensuous pleasure— perhaps some such feeling as of the con- 
viction of immortality, that Thoreau experienced and tells about 
in Walden. "I penetrated to those meadows . . . when the wild 
river and the woods were bathed in so pure and bright a light 
as would have waked the dead if they had been slumbering in 
their graves as some suppose. There needs no stronger proof of 
immortality." Enthusiasm must permeate it, but what it is that 
inspires an art-effort is not easily determined much less classified. 
The word "inspire" is used here in the sense of cause rather than 
effect. A critic may say that a certain movement is not inspired. 
But that may be a matter of taste— perhaps the most inspired 
music sounds the least so— to the critic. A true inspiration may 
lack a true expression unless it is assumed that if an inspiration 
is not true enough to produce a true expression— (if there be 
anyone who can definitely determine what a true expression is) 
—it is not an inspiration at all. 

Again suppose the same composer at another time writes a 
piece of equal merit to the other three, as estimates go; but 
holds that he is not conscious of what inspired it— that he had 
nothing definite in mind— that he was not aware of any mental 
image or process— that, naturally, the actual work in creating 
something gave him a satisfying feeling of pleasure perhaps of 
elation. What will you substitute for the mountain lake, for his 
friend's character, etc.? Will you substitute anything? If so why? 
If so what? Or is it enough to let the matter rest on the pleasure 
mainly physical, of the tones, their color, succession, and rela- 
tions, formal or informal? Can an inspiration come from a blank 
mind? Well— he tries to explain and says that he was conscious 
of some emotional excitement and of a sense of something 
beautiful, he doesn't know exactly what— a vague feeling of 
exaltation or perhaps of profound sadness. 

What is the source of these instinctive feelings, these vague 
intuitions and introspective sensations? The more we try to 
analyze the more vague they become. To pull them apart and 
classify them as "subjective" or "objective" or as this or 
as that, means, that they may be well classified and that is 
about all; it leaves us as far from the origin as ever. What 
does it all mean? What is behind it all? The "voice of God," 



108 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

says the artist, "the voice of the devil," says the man in the front 
row. Are we, because we are, human beings, born with the 
power of innate perception of the beautiful in the abstract so 
that an inspiration can arise through no external stimuli of 
sensation or experience,— no association with the outward? Or 
was there present in the above instance, some kind of subconsci- 
ous, instantaneous, composite image, of all the mountain lakes 
this man had ever seen blended as kind of overtones with the 
various traits of nobility of many of his friends embodied in 
one personality? Do all inspirational images, states, conditions, 
or whatever they may be truly called, have for a dominant part, 
if not for a source, some actual experience in life or of the social 
relation? To think that they do not— always at least— would be a 
relief; but as we are trying to consider music made and heard 
by human beings (and not by birds or angels) it seems difficult 
to suppose that even subconscious images can be separated from 
some human experience— there must be something behind sub- 
consciousness to produce consciousness, and so on. But whatever 
the elements and origin of these so-called images are, that they 
do stir deep emotional feelings and encourage their expression 
is a part of the unknowable we know. They do often arouse 
something that has not yet passed the border line between sub- 
consciousness and consciousness— an artistic intuition (well 
named, but)— object and cause unknown!— here is a program!— 
conscious or subconscious what does it matter? Why try to trace 
any stream that flows through the garden of consciousness to 
its source only to be confronted by another problem of tracing 
this source to its source? Perhaps Emerson in the Rhodora 
answers by not trying to explain 

That if eyes were made for seeing 

Then beauty is its own excuse for being: 

Why thou wert there, O, rival of the rose! 

I never thought to ask, I never knew; 

But, in my simple ignorance, suppose 

The self-same Power that brought me there brought you. 

Perhaps Sturt answers by substitution: "We cannot explain 
the origin of an artistic intuition any more than the origin of 
any other primary function of our nature. But if as I believe 



Prologue 109 

civilization is mainly founded on those kinds of unselfish human 
interests which we call knowledge and morality it is easily intelli- 
gible that we should have a parallel interest which we call art 
closely akin and lending powerful support to the other two. It 
is intelligible too that moral goodness, intellectual power, high 
vitality, and strength should be approved by the intuition." This 
reduces, or rather brings the problem back to a tangible basis 
namely:— the translation of an artistic intuition into musical 
sounds approving and reflecting, or endeavoring to approve and 
reflect, a "moral goodness," a "high vitality," etc., or any other 
human attribute mental, moral, or spiritual. 

Can music do more than this? Can it do this? and if so 
who and what is to determine the degree of its failure or success? 
The composer, the performer (if there be any), or those who 
have to listen? One hearing or a century of hearings?— and if 
it isn't successful or if it doesn't fail what matters it?— the fear 
of failure need keep no one from the attempt for if the com- 
poser is sensitive he need but launch forth a countercharge of 
"being misunderstood" and hide behind it. A theme that the 
composer sets up as "moral goodness" may sound like "high 
vitality," to his friend and but like an outburst of "nervous 
weakness" or only a "stagnant pool" to those not even his 
enemies. Expression to a great extent is a matter of terms and 
terms are anyone's. The meaning of "God" may have a billion 
interpretations if there be that many souls in the world. 

There is a moral in the "Nominalist and Realist" that will 
prove all sums. It runs something like this: No matter how 
sincere and confidential men are in trying to know or assuming 
that they do know each other's mood and habits of thought, the 
net result leaves a feeling that all is left unsaid; for the reason 
of their incapacity to know each other, though they use the 
same words. They go on from one explanation to another but 
things seem to stand about as they did in the beginning "because 
of that vicious assumption." But we would rather believe that 
music is beyond any analogy to word language and that the time 
is coming, but not in our lifetime, when it will develop possibili- 
ties unconceivable now,— a language, so transcendent, that its 
heights and depths will be common to all mankind. 



110 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

II Emerson 



It has seemed to the writer, that Emer- 
son is greater— his identity more complete perhaps— in the realms 
of revelation— natural disclosure— than in those of poetry, philos- 
ophy, or prophecy. Though a great poet and prophet, he is 
greater, possibly, as an invader of the unknown,— America's 
deepest explorer of the spiritual immensities,— a seer painting 
his discoveries in masses and with any color that may lie at 
hand— cosmic, religious, human, even sensuous; a recorder, freely 
describing the inevitable struggle in the soul's uprise— perceiving 
from this inward source alone, that every "ultimate fact is only 
the first of a new series"; a discoverer, whose heart knows, with 
Voltaire, "that man seriously reflects when left alone," and 
would then discover, if he can, that "wondrous chain which 
links the heavens with earth— the world of beings subject to one 
law." In his reflections Emerson, unlike Plato, is not afraid to 
ride Arion's Dolphin, and to go wherever he is carried— to 
Parnassus or to "Musketaquid." 

We see him standing on a summit, at the door of the infinite 
where many men do not care to climb, peering into the mysteries 
of life, contemplating the eternities, hurling back whatever he 
discovers there,— now, thunderbolts for us to grasp, if we can, 
and translate— now placing quietly, even tenderly, in our hands, 
things that we may see without effort— if we won't see them, so 
much the worse for us. 

We see him,— a mountain-guide, so intensely on the lookout 
for the trail of his star, that he has no time to stop and retrace 
his footprints, which may often seem indistinct to his followers, 
who find it easier and perhaps safer to keep their eyes on the 
ground. And there is a chance that this guide could not always 
retrace his steps if he tried— and why should he!— he is on the 
road, conscious only that, though his star may not lie within 
walking distance, he must reach it before his wagon can be 
hitched to it— a Prometheus illuminating a privilege of the Gods 
—lighting a fuse that is laid towards men. Emerson reveals the 
less not by an analysis of itself, but by bringing men towards 



Emerson 111 

the greater. He does not try to reveal, personally, but leads, 
rather, to a field where revelation is a harvest-part, where it is 
known by the perceptions of the soul towards the absolute law. 
He leads us towards this law, which is a realization of what ex- 
perience has suggested and philosophy hoped for. He leads us, 
conscious that the aspects of truth, as he sees them, may change 
as often as truth remains constant. Revelation perhaps, is but 
prophecy intensified— the intensifying of its mason-work as well 
as its steeple. Simple prophecy, while concerned with the past, 
reveals but the future, while revelation is concerned with all 
time. The power in Emerson's prophecy confuses it with— or at 
least makes it seem to approach— revelation. It is prophecy with 
no time element. Emerson tells, as few bards could, of what will 
happen in the past, for his future is eternity and the past is a 
part of that. And so like all true prophets, he is always modern, 
and will grow modern with the years— for his substance is not 
relative but a measure of eternal truths determined rather by a 
universalist than by a partialist. He measured, as Michel Angelo 
said true artists should, "with the eye and not the hand." But 
to attribute modernism to his substance, though not to his ex- 
pression, is an anachronism— and as futile as calling to-day's 
sunset modern. 

As revelation and prophecy, in their common acceptance 
are resolved by man, from the absolute and universal, to the 
relative and personal, and as Emerson's tendency is fundamen- 
tally the opposite, it is easier, safer and so apparently clearer, 
to think of him as a poet of natural and revealed philosophy. 
And as such, a prophet— but not one to be confused with those 
singing soothsayers, whose pockets are filled, as are the pockets 
of conservative-reaction and radical demagoguery in pulpit, 
street-corner, bank and columns, with dogmatic fortune-tellings. 
Emerson, as a prophet in these lower heights, was a conservative, 
in that he seldom lost his head, and a radical, in that he seldom 
cared whether he lost it or not. He was a born radical as are all 
true conservatives. He was too much "absorbed by the absolute," 
too much of the universal to be either— though he could be both 
at once. To Cotton Mather, he would have been a demagogue, 
to a real demagogue he would not be understood, as it was with 



112 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

no self interest that he laid his hand on reality. The nearer any 
subject or an attribute of it, approaches to the perfect truth at 
its base, the more does qualification become necessary. Radical- 
ism must always qualify itself. Emerson clarifies as he qualifies, 
by plunging into, rather than "emerging from Carlyle's soul- 
confusing labyrinths of speculative radicalism." The radicalism 
that we hear much about to-day, is not Emerson's kind— but of 
thinner fiber— it qualifies itself by going to A "root" and often 
cutting other roots in the process; it is usually impotent as dyna- 
mite in its cause and sometimes as harmful to the wholesome 
progress of all causes; it is qualified by its failure. But the Rad- 
icalism of Emerson plunges to all roots, it becomes greater than 
itself— greater than all its formal or informal doctrines— too ad- 
vanced and too conservative for any specific result— too catholic 
for all the churches— for the nearer it is to truth, the farther it 
is from a truth, and the more it is qualified by its future 
possibilities. 

Hence comes the difficulty— the futility of attempting to 
fasten on Emerson any particular doctrine, philosophic, or re- 
ligious theory. Emerson wrings the neck of any law, that would 
become exclusive and arrogant, whether a definite one of meta- 
physics or an indefinite one of mechanics. He hacks his way up 
and down, as near as he can to the absolute, the oneness of all 
nature both human and spiritual, and to God's benevolence. To 
him the ultimate of a conception is its vastness, and it is prob- 
ably this, rather than the "blind-spots" in his expression that 
makes us incline to go with him but half-way; and then stand 
and build dogmas. But if we can not follow all the way— if we 
do not always clearly perceive the whole picture, we are at least 
free to imagine it— he makes us feel that we are free to do so; 
perhaps that is the most he asks. For he is but reaching out 
through and beyond mankind, trying to see what he can of the 
infinite and its immensities— throwing back to us whatever he 
can— but ever conscious that he but occasionally catches a 
glimpse; conscious that if he would contemplate the greater, he 
must wrestle with the lesser, even though it dims an outline; 
that he must struggle if he would hurl back anything— even a 
broken fragment for men to examine and perchance in it find a 
germ of some part of truth; conscious at times, of the futility of 



Emerson 113 

his effort and its message, conscious of its vagueness, but ever 
hopeful for it, and confident that its foundation, if not its 
medium is somewhere near the eventual and "absolute good"— 
the divine truth underlying all life. If Emerson must be dubbed 
an optimist— then an optimist fighting pessimism, but not wal- 
lowing in it; an optimist, who does not study pessimism by 
learning to enjoy it, whose imagination is greater than his 
curiosity, who seeing the sign-post to Erebus, is strong enough 
to go the other way. This strength of optimism, indeed the 
strength we find always underlying his tolerance, his radicalism, 
his searches, prophecies, and revelations, is heightened and made 
efficient by "imagination-penetrative," a thing concerned not 
with the combining but the apprehending of things. A posses- 
sion, akin to the power, Ruskin says, all great pictures have, 
which "depends on the penetration of the imagination into the 
true nature of the thing represented, and on the scorn of the 
imagination for all shackles and fetters of mere external fact 
that stand in the way of its suggestiveness"— a possession which 
gives the strength of distance to his eyes, and the strength 
of muscle to his soul. With this he slashes down through 
the loam— nor would he have us rest there. If we would dig 
deep enough only to plant a doctrine, from one part of him, 
he would show us the quick-silver in that furrow. If we 
would creed his Compensation, there is hardly a sentence 
that could not wreck it, or could not show that the idea is no 
tenet of a philosophy, but a clear (though perhaps not clearly 
hurled on the canvas) illustration of universal justice— of God's 
perfect balances; a story of the analogy or better the identity of 
polarity and duality in Nature with that in morality. The essay 
is no more a doctrine than the law of gravitation is. If we would 
stop and attribute too much to genius, he shows us that "what is 
best written or done by genius in the world, was no one man's 
work, but came by wide social labor, when a thousand wrought 
like one, sharing the same impulse." If we would find in his 
essay on Montaigne, a biography, we are shown a biography of 
scepticism— and in reducing this to relation between "sensation 
and the morals" we are shown a true Montaigne— we know the 
man better perhaps by this less presentation. If we would stop 
and trust heavily on the harvest of originality, he shows us that 



114 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

this plant— this part of the garden— is but a relative thing. It 
is dependent also on the richness that ages have put into the 
soil. "Every thinker is retrospective." 

Thus is Emerson always beating down through the crust 
towards the first fire of life, of death and of eternity. Read 
where you will, each sentence seems not to point to the next but 
to the undercurrent of all. If you would label his a religion of 
ethics or of morals, he shames you at the outset, "for ethics is but 
a reflection of a divine personality." All the religions this world 
has ever known, have been but the aftermath of the ethics of one 
or another holy person; "as soon as character appears be sure 
love will"; "the intuition of the moral sentiment is but the 
insight of the perfection of the laws of the soul"; but these laws 
cannot be catalogued. 

If a versatilist, a modern Goethe, for instance, could put all 
of Emerson's admonitions into practice, a constant permanence 
would result,— an eternal short-circuit— a focus of equal X-rays. 
Even the value or success of but one precept is dependent, like 
that of a ball-game as much on the batting-eye as on the pitch- 
ing-arm. The inactivity of permanence is what Emerson will not 
permit. He will not accept repose against the activity of truth. 
But this almost constant resolution of every insight towards the 
absolute may get a little on one's nerves, if one is at all partial- 
wise to the specific; one begins to ask what is the. absolute any- 
way, and why try to look clear through the eternities and the 
unknowable even out of the other end. Emerson's fondness for 
flying to definite heights on indefinite wings, and the tendency 
to over-resolve, becomes unsatisfying to the impatient, who want 
results to come as they walk. Probably this is a reason that it is 
occasionally said that Emerson has no vital message for the rank 
and file. He has no definite message perhaps for the literal, but 
messages are all vital, as much, by reason of his indefiniteness, 
as in spite of it. 

There is a suggestion of irony in the thought that the power 
of his vague but compelling vitality, which ever sweeps us on in 
spite of ourselves, might not have been his, if it had not been for 
those definite religious doctrines of the old New England theolo- 
gians. For almost two centuries, Emerson's mental and spiritual 
muscles had been in training for him in the moral and intellec- 



Emerson 115 

tual contentions, a part of the religious exercise of his forebears. 
A kind of higher sensitiveness seems to culminate in him. It 
gives him a power of searching for a wider freedom of soul than 
theirs. The religion of Puritanism was based to a great extent, 
on a search for the unknowable, limited only by the dogma of 
its theology— a search for a path, so that the soul could better 
be conducted to the next world, while Emerson's transcendental- 
ism was based on the wider search for the unknowable, unlim- 
ited in any way or by anything except the vast bounds of innate 
goodness, as it might be revealed to him in any phenomena of 
man, Nature, or God. This distinction, tenuous, in spite of the 
definite-sounding words, we like to believe has something pecul- 
iar to Emerson in it. We like to feel that it superimposes the one 
that makes all transcendentalism but an intellectual state, based 
on the theory of innate ideas, the reality of thought and the 
necessity of its freedom. For the philosophy of the religion, or 
whatever you will call it, of the Concord Transcendentalists is 
at least, more than an intellectual state— it has even some of the 
functions of the Puritan church— it is a spiritual state in which 
both soul and mind can better conduct themselves in this world, 
and also in the next— when the time comes. The search of the 
Puritan was rather along the path of logic, spiritualized, and the 
transcendentalist of reason, spiritualized— a difference in a broad 
sense between objective and subjective contemplation. 

The dislike of inactivity, repose and barter, drives one to 
the indefinite subjective. Emerson's lack of interest in perma- 
nence may cause him to present a subjectivity harsher on the 
outside than is essential. His very universalism occasionally seems 
a limitation. Somewhere here may lie a weakness— real to some, 
apparent to others— a weakness in so far as his relation be- 
comes less vivid— to the many; insofar as he over-disregards 
the personal unit in the universal. If Genius is the most 
indebted, how much does it owe to those who would, but do 
not easily ride with it? If there is a weakness here is it the fault 
of substance or only of manner? If of the former, there is organic 
error somewhere, and Emerson will become less and less valuable 
to man. But this seems impossible, at least to us. Without con- 
sidering his manner or expression here (it forms the general 
subject of the second section of this paper), let us ask if Emer- 



116 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

son's substance needs an affinity, a supplement or even a comple- 
ment or a gangplank? And if so, of what will it be composed? 

Perhaps Emerson could not have risen to his own, if it had 
not been for his Unitarian training and association with the 
churchmen emancipators. "Christianity is founded on, and sup- 
poses the authority of, reason, and cannot therefore oppose it, 
without subverting itself." . . . "Its office is to discern universal 
truths, great and eternal principles . . . the highest power of the 
soul." Thus preached Charming. Who knows but this pulpit 
aroused the younger Emerson to the possibilities of intuitive 
reasoning in spiritual realms? The influence of men like Chan- 
ning in his fight for the dignity of human nature, against the 
arbitrary revelations that Calvinism had strapped on the church, 
and for the belief in the divine in human reason, doubtless en- 
couraged Emerson in his unshackled search for the infinite, and 
gave him premises which he later took for granted instead of 
carrying them around with him. An overinterest, not an under- 
interest in Christian ideal aims, may have caused him to feel 
that the definite paths were well established and doing their 
share, and that for some to reach the same infinite ends, more 
paths might be opened— paths which would in themselves, and 
in a more transcendent way, partake of the spiritual nature of 
the land in quest,— another expression of God's Kingdom in 
Man. Would you have the indefinite paths always supplemented 
by the shadow of the definite one of a first influence? 

A characteristic of rebellion, is that its results are often 
deepest, when the rebel breaks not from the worst to the greatest, 
but from the great to the greater. The youth of the rebel in- 
creases this characteristic. The innate rebellious spirit in young 
men is active and buoyant. They could rebel against and im- 
prove the millennium. This excess of enthusiasm at the inception 
of a movement, causes loss of perspective; a natural tendency to 
undervalue the great in that which is being taken as a base of 
departure. A "youthful sedition" of Emerson was his withdrawal 
from the communion, perhaps, the most socialistic doctrine (or 
rather symbol) of the church— a "commune" above property or 
class. 

Picking up an essay on religion of a rather remarkable- 
minded boy— perhaps with a touch of genius— written when he 



Emerson 117 

was still in college, and so serving as a good illustration in point 
—we read— "Every thinking man knows that the church is dead." 
But every thinking man knows that the church-part of the 
church always has been dead— that part seen by candle-light, not 
Christ-light. Enthusiasm is restless and hasn't time to see that 
if the church holds itself as nothing but the symbol of the greater 
light it is life itself— as a symbol of a symbol it is dead. 
Many of the sincerest followers of Christ never heard of Him. It 
is the better influence of an institution that arouses in the deep 
and earnest souls a feeling of rebellion to make its aims more 
certain. It is their very sincerity that causes these seekers for a 
freer vision to strike down for more fundamental, universal, and 
perfect truths, but with such feverish enthusiasm, that they 
appear to overthink themselves— a subconscious way of going 
Godward perhaps. The rebel of the twentieth century says: "Let 
us discard God, immortality, miracle— but be not untrue to our- 
selves." Here he, no doubt, in a sincere and exalted moment, 
confuses God with a name. He apparently feels that there is a 
separatable difference between natural and revealed religion. 
He mistakes the powers behind them, to be fundamentally 
separate. In the excessive keenness of his search, he forgets that 
"being true to ourselves" is God, that the faintest thought of 
immortality is God, and that God is "miracle." Overenthusiasm 
keeps one from letting a common experience of a day translate 
what is stirring the soul. The same inspiring force that arouses 
the young rebel, brings later in life a kind of "experience-after- 
glow," a realization that the soul cannot discard or limit any- 
thing. Would you have the youthful enthusiasm of rebellion, 
which Emerson carried beyond his youth always supplemented 
by the shadow of experience? 

Perhaps it is not the narrow minded alone that have no 
interest in anything, but in its relation to their personality. Is 
the Christian Religion, to which Emerson owes embryo-ideals, 
anything but the revelation of God in a personality— a revelation 
so that the narrow mind could become opened? But the tend- 
ency to over-personalize personality may also have suggested to 
Emerson the necessity for more universal, and impersonal paths, 
though they be indefinite of outline and vague of ascent. Could 
you journey, with equal benefit, if they were less so? Would you 



118 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

have the universal always supplemented by the shadow of the 
personal? If this view is accepted, and we doubt that it can be 
by the majority, Emerson's substance could well bear a supple- 
ment, perhaps an affinity. Something that will support that 
which some conceive he does not offer. Something that will help 
answer Alton Locke's question: "What has Emerson for the 
working-man?" and questions of others who look for the gang- 
plank before the ship comes in sight. Something that will supply 
the definite banister to the infinite, which it is said he keeps 
invisible. Something that will point a crossroad from "his per- 
sonal" to "his nature." Something that may be in Thoreau or 
Wordsworth, or in another poet whose songs "breathe of a new 
morning of a higher life though a definite beauty in Nature"— 
or something that will show the birth of his ideal and hold out 
a background of revealed religion, as a perspective to his tran- 
scendent religion— a counterpoise in his rebellion— which we 
feel Channing or Dr. Bushnell, or other saints known and un- 
known might supply. 

If the arc must be completed— if there are those who would 
have the great, dim outlines of Emerson fulfilled, it is fortunate 
that there are Bushnells, and Wordsworths, to whom they may 
appeal— to say nothing of the Vedas, the Bible, or their own 
souls. But such possibilities and conceptions, the deeper they 
are received, the more they seem to reduce their need. Emer- 
son's Circle may be a better whole, without its complement. 
Perhaps his "unsatiable demand for unity, the need to recognize 
one nature in all variety of objects," would have been impaired, 
if something should make it simpler for men to find the identity 
they at first want in his substance. "Draw if thou canst the mystic 
line severing rightly his from thine, which is human, which 
divine." Whatever means one would use to personalize Emer- 
son's natural revelation, whether by a vision or a board walk, 
the vastness of his aims and the dignity of his tolerance would 
doubtless cause him to accept or at least try to accept, and use 
"magically as a part of his fortune." He would modestly say, 
perhaps, "that the world is enlarged for him, not by finding new 
objects, but by more affinities, and potencies than those he 
already has." But, indeed, is not enough manifestation already 
there? Is not the asking that it be made more manifest forgetting 



Emerson 119 

that "we are not strong by our power to penetrate, but by our 
relatedness?" Will more signs create a greater sympathy? Is not 
our weak suggestion needed only for those content with their 
own hopelessness? 

Others may lead others to him, but he finds his problem in 
making "gladness hope and fortitude flow from his page," rather 
than in arranging that our hearts be there to receive it. The 
first is his duty— the last ours! 



A devotion to an end tends to undervalue the means. A 
power of revelation may make one more concerned about his 
perceptions of the soul's nature than the way of their disclosure. 
Emerson is more interested in what he perceives than in his ex- 
pression of it. He is a creator whose intensity is consumed more 
with the substance of his creation than with the manner by 
which he shows it to others. Like Petrarch he seems more a dis- 
coverer of Beauty than an imparter of it. But these discoveries, 
these devotions to aims, these struggles toward the absolute, do 
not these in themselves, impart something, if not all, of their 
own unity and coherence— which is not received, as such, at first, 
nor is foremost in their expression. It must be remembered that 

"truth" was what Emerson was after not strength of outline, 

or even beauty except in so far as they might reveal themselves, 
naturally, in his explorations towards the infinite. To think hard 
and deeply and to say what is thought, regardless of conse- 
quences, may produce a first impression, either of great translu- 
cence, or of great muddiness, but in the latter there may be 
hidden possibilities. Some accuse Brahms' orchestration of being 
muddy. This may be a good name for a first impression of it. 
But if it should seem less so, he might not be saying what he 
thought. The mud may be a form of sincerity which demands 
that the heart be translated, rather than handed around through 
the pit. A clearer scoring might have lowered the thought. 
Carlyle told Emerson that some of his paragraphs didn't cohere. 
Emerson wrote by sentences or phrases, rather than by logical 
sequence. His underlying plan of work seems based on the 



120 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

large unity of a series of particular aspects of a subject, rather 
than on the continuity of its expression. As thoughts surge to 
his mind, he fills the heavens with them, crowds them in, if 
necessary, but seldom arranges them, along the ground first. 
Among class-room excuses for Emerson's imperfect coherence 
and lack of unity, is one that remembers that his essays were 
made from lecture notes. His habit, often in lecturing, was to 
compile his ideas as they came to him on a general subject, in 
scattered notes, and when on the platform, to trust to the mood 
of the occasion, to assemble them. This seems a specious expla- 
nation, though true to fact. Vagueness, is at times, an indication 
of nearness to a perfect truth. The definite glory of Bernard of 
Cluny's Celestial City, is more beautiful than true— probably. 
Orderly reason does not always have to be a visible part of all 
great things. Logic may possibly require that unity means some- 
thing ascending in self-evident relation to the parts and to the 
whole, with no ellipsis in the ascent. But reason may permit, 
even demand an ellipsis, and genius may not need the self-evi- 
dent part. In fact, these parts may be the "blind-spots" in the 
progress of unity. They may be filled with little but repetition. 
"Nature loves analogy and hates repetition." Botany reveals 
evolution not permanence. An apparent confusion if lived with 
long enough may become orderly. Emerson was not writing for 
lazy minds, though one of the keenest of his academic friends 
said that, he (Emerson) could not explain many of his own 
pages. But why should he!— he explained them when he dis- 
covered them— the moment before he spoke or wrote them. A 
rare experience of a moment at daybreak, when something in 
nature seems to reveal all consciousness, cannot be explained at 
noon. Yet it is a part of the day's unity. At evening, nature is 
absorbed by another experience. She dislikes to explain as much 
as to repeat. It is conceivable, that what is unified form to the 
author, or composer, may of necessity be formless to his audience. 
A home-run will cause more unity in the grand stand than in 
the season's batting average. If a composer once starts to com- 
promise, his work will begin to drag on him. Before the end is 
reached, his inspiration has all gone up in sounds pleasing to 
his audience, ugly to him— sacrificed for the first acoustic— an 
opaque clarity, a picture painted for its hanging. Easy unity, like 



Emerson 121 

easy virtue, is easier to describe, when judged from its lapses 
than from its constancy. When the infidel admits God is great, 
he means only: "I am lazy— it is easier to talk than live." Ruskin 
also says: "Suppose I like the finite curves best, who shall say 
I'm right or wrong? No one. It is simply a question of experi- 
ence." You may not be able to experience a symphony, even 
after twenty performances. Initial coherence to-day may be dull- 
ness to-morrow probably because formal or outward unity de- 
pends so much on repetition, sequences, antitheses, paragraphs 
with inductions and summaries. Macaulay had that kind of 
unity. Can you read him to-day? Emerson rather goes out and 
shouts: "I'm thinking of the sun's glory to-day and I'll let his 
light shine through me. I'll say any damn thing that this inspires 
me with." Perhaps there are flashes of light, still in cipher, kept 
there by unity, the code of which the world has not yet dis- 
covered. The unity of one sentence inspires the unity of the 
whole— though its physique is as ragged as the Dolomites. 

Intense lights— vague shadows— great pillars in a horizon 
are difficult things to nail signboards to. Emerson's outward- 
inward qualities make him hard to classify, but easy for some. 
There are many who like to say that he— even all the Concord 
men— are intellectuals. Perhaps— but intellectuals who wear their 
brains nearer the heart than some of their critics. It is as danger- 
ous to determine a characteristic by manner as by mood. Emer- 
son is a pure intellectual to those who prefer to take him as 
literally as they can. There are reformers, and in "the form" 
lies their interest, who prefer to stand on the plain, and then 
insist they see from the summit. Indolent legs supply the strength 
of eye for their inspiration. The intellect is never a whole. It 
is where the soul finds things. It is often the only track to the 
over-values. It appears a whole— but never becomes one even in 
the stock exchange, or the convent, or the laboratory. In the 
cleverest criminal, it is but a way to a low ideal. It can never 
discard the other part of its duality— the soul or the void where 
the soul ought to be. So why classify a quality always so relative 
that it is more an agency than substance; a quality that dis- 
appears when classified. "The life of the All must stream 
through us to make the man and the moment great." A sailor 
with a precious cargo doesn't analyze the water. 



122 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

Because Emerson had generations of Calvinistic sermons 
in his blood, some cataloguers, would localize or provincialize 
him, with the sternness of the old Puritan mind. They make 
him that, hold him there. They lean heavily on what they find 
of the above influence in him. They won't follow the rivers in 
his thought and the play of his soul. And their cousin cata- 
loguers put him in another pigeon-hole. They label him "ascet- 
ic." They translate his outward serenity into an impression of 
severity. But truth keeps one from being hysterical. Is a dema- 
gogue a friend of the people because he will lie to them to make 
them cry and raise false hopes? A search for perfect truths 
throws out a beauty more spiritual than sensuous. A sombre 
dignity of style is often confused by under-imagination and by 
surface-sentiment, with austerity. If Emerson's manner is not 
always beautiful in accordance with accepted standards, why 
not accept a few other standards? He is an ascetic, in that he 
refuses to compromise content with manner. But a real ascetic is 
an extremist who has but one height. Thus may come the con- 
fusion, of one who says that Emerson carries him high, but then 
leaves him always at that height— no higher— a confusion, mis- 
taking a latent exultation for an ascetic reserve. The rules of 
Thorough Bass can be applied to his scale of flight no more 
than they can to the planetary system. Jadassohn, if Emerson 
were literally a composer, could no more analyze his harmony 
than a guide-to-Boston could. A microscope might show that 
he uses chords of the 9th, 11th, or the 99th, but a lens far 
different tells us they are used with different aims from those 
of Debussy. Emerson is definite in that his art is based on some- 
thing stronger than the amusing or at its best the beguiling of a 
few mortals. If he uses a sensuous chord, it is not for sensual 
ears. His harmonies may float, if the wind blows in that direc- 
tion, through a voluptuous atmosphere, but he has not De- 
bussy's fondness for trying to blow a sensuous atmosphere from 
his own voluptuous cheeks. And so he is an ascetic! There is a 
distance between jowl and soul— and it is not measured by the 
fraction of an inch between Concord and Paris. On the other 
hand, if one thinks that his harmony contains no dramatic 
chords, because no theatrical sound is heard, let him listen to 
the finale of "Success," or of "Spiritual Laws," or to some of the 



Emerson 123 

poems, "Brahma" or "Sursum Corda," for example. Of a truth 
his Codas often seem to crystallize in a dramatic, though serene 
and sustained way, the truths of his subject— they become more 
active and intense, but quieter and deeper. 

Then there comes along another set of cataloguers. They 
put him down as a "classicist," or a romanticist, or an eclectic. 
Because a prophet is a child of romanticism— because revelation 
is classic, because eclecticism quotes from eclectic Hindu Philos- 
ophy, a more sympathetic cataloguer may say, that Emerson 
inspires courage of the quieter kind and delight of the higher 
kind. 

The same well-bound school teacher who told the boys that 
Thoreau was a naturalist because he didn't like to work, puts 
down Emerson as a "classic," and Hawthorne as a "romantic." 
A loud voice made this doubly true and sure to be on the 
examination paper. But this teacher of "truth and dogma" 
apparently forgot that there is no such thing as "classicism or 
romanticism." One has but to go to the various definitions of 
these to know that. If you go to a classic definition you know 
what a true classic is, and similarly a "true romantic." But if 
you go to both, you have an algebraic formula, x = x, a cancella- 
tion, an apercu, and hence satisfying; if you go to all definitions 
you have another formula x > x, a destruction, another apergu, 
and hence satisfying. Professor Beers goes to the dictionary (you 
wouldn't think a college professor would be as reckless as that). 
And so he can say that "romantic" is "pertaining to the style 
of the Christian and popular literature of the Middle Ages,"— 
a Roman Catholic mode of salvation (not this definition but 
having a definition). And so Prof. B. can say that Walter Scott 
is a romanticist (and Billy Phelps a classic— sometimes). But for 
our part Dick Croker is a classic and Job a romanticist. Another 
professor, Babbitt by name, links up Romanticism with Rous- 
seau, and charges against it many of man's troubles. He somehow 
likes to mix it up with sin. He throws saucers at it, but in a 
scholarly, interesting, sincere, and accurate way. He uncovers a 
deformed foot, gives it a name, from which we are allowed to 
infer that the covered foot is healthy and named classicism. But 
no Christian Scientist can prove that Christ never had a stomach 



124 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

ache. The Architecture of Humanism 1 tells us that "romanti- 
cism consists of ... a poetic sensibility towards the remote, as 
such." But is Plato a classic or towards the remote? Is Classicism 
a poor relation of time— not of man? Is a thing classic or roman- 
tic because it is or is not passed by that biologic— that indescrib- 
able stream-of-change going on in all life? Let us settle the 
point for "good," and say that a thing is classic if it is thought 
of in terms of the past and romantic if thought of in terms of 
the future— and a thing thought of in terms of the present is— 
well, that is impossible! Hence, we allow ourselves to say, that 
Emerson is neither a classic or romantic but both— and both not 
only at different times in one essay, but at the same time in 
one sentence— in one word. And must we admit it, so is everyone. 
If you don't believe it, there must be some true definition you 
haven't seen. Chopin shows a few things that Bach forgot— but 
he is not eclectic, they say. Brahms shows many things that 
Bach did remember, so he is an eclectic, they say. Leoncavallo 
writes pretty verses and Palestrina is a priest, and Confucius in- 
spires Scriabin. A choice is freedom. Natural selection is but 
one of Nature's tunes. "All melodious poets shall be hoarse as 
street ballads, when once the penetrating keynote of nature and 
spirit is sounded— the earth-beat, sea-beat, heart-beat, which 
make the tune to which the sun rolls, and the globule of blood 
and the sap of the trees." 

An intuitive sense of values, tends to make Emerson use 
social, political, and even economic phenomena, as means of 
expression, as the accidental notes in his scale— rather than as 
ends, even lesser ends. In the realization that they are essential 
parts of the greater values, he does not confuse them with each 
other. He remains undisturbed except in rare instances, when 
the lower parts invade and seek to displace the higher. He was 
not afraid to say that "there are laws which should not be too 
well obeyed." To him, slavery was not a social or a political or 
an economic question, nor even one of morals or of ethics, but 
one of universal spiritual freedom only. It mattered little what 
party, or what platform, or what law of commerce governed men. 
Was man governing himself? Social error and virtue were but 
relative. 

i Geoffrey Scott (Constable & Co.) 



Emerson 125 

This habit of not being hindered by using, but still going 
beyond the great truths of living, to the greater truths of life 
gave force to his influence over the materialists. Thus he seems 
to us more a regenerator than a reformer— more an interpreter 
of life's reflexes than of life's facts, perhaps. Here he appears 
greater than Voltaire or Rousseau and helped, perhaps, by the 
centrality of his conceptions, he could arouse the deeper spiritual 
and moral emotions, without causing his listeners to distort their 
physical ones. To prove that mind is over matter, he doesn't 
place matter over mind. He is not like the man who, because 
he couldn't afford both, gave up metaphysics for an automobile, 
and when he ran over a man blamed metaphysics. He would 
not have us get over-excited about physical disturbance but 
have it accepted as a part of any progress in culture, moral, 
spiritual or aesthetic. If a poet retires to the mountain-side, to 
avoid the vulgar unculture of men, and their physical disturb- 
ance, so that he may better catch a nobler theme for his sym- 
phony, Emerson tells him that "man's culture can spare nothing, 
wants all material, converts all impediments into instruments, 
all enemies into power." The latest product of man's culture— 
the aeroplane, then sails o'er the mountain and instead of an 
inspiration— a spray of tobacco-juice falls on the poet. "Calm 
yourself, Poet!" says Emerson, "culture will convert furies into 
muses and hells into benefit. This wouldn't have befallen you 
if it hadn't been for the latest transcendent product of the gen- 
ius of culture" (we won't say what kind), a consummation of 
the dreams of poets, from David to Tennyson. Material progress 
is but a means of expression. Realize that man's coarseness has 
its future and will also be refined in the gradual uprise. Turning 
the world upside down may be one of its lesser incidents. It is 
the cause, seldom the effect that interests Emerson. He can 
help the cause— the effect must help itself. He might have 
said to those who talk knowingly about the cause of war— 
or of the last war, and who would trace it down through long 
vistas of cosmic, political, moral evolution and what not— he 
might say that the cause of it was as simple as that of any dog- 
fight—the "hog-mind" of the minority against the universal 
mind, the majority. The un-courage of the former fears to 
believe in the innate goodness of mankind. The cause is always 



126 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

the same, the effect different by chance; it is as easy for a hog, 
even a stupid one, to step on a box of matches under a tenement 
with a thousand souls, as under an empty bird-house. The many 
kindly burn up for the few; for the minority is selfish and the 
majority generous. The minority has ruled the world for physi- 
cal reasons. The physical reasons are being removed by this 
"converting culture." Webster will not much longer have to 
grope for the mind of his constituency. The majority— the 
people— will need no intermediary. Governments will pass from 
the representative to the direct. The hog-mind is the principal 
thing that is making this transition slow. The biggest prop to 
the hog-mind is pride— pride in property and the power prop- 
erty gives. Ruskin backs this up— "it is at the bottom of all great 
mistakes; other passions do occasional good, but whenever pride 
puts in its word ... it is all over with the artist." The hog-mind 
and its handmaidens in disorder, superficial brightness, funda- 
mental dullness, then cowardice and suspicion— all a part of the 
minority (the non-people) the antithesis of everything called 
soul, spirit, Christianity, truth, freedom— will give way more and 
more to the great primal truths— that there is more good than 
evil, that God is on the side of the majority (the people)— that 
he is not enthusiastic about the minority (the non-people)— that 
he has made men greater than man, that he has made the uni- 
versal mind and the over-soul greater and a part of the indi- 
vidual mind and soul— that he has made the Divine a part of all. 
Again, if a picture in economics is before him, Emerson 
plunges down to the things that are because they are better than 
they are. If there is a row, which there usually is, between the 
ebb and flood tide, in the material ocean— for example, between 
the theory of the present order of competition, and of attractive 
and associated labor, he would sympathize with Ricardo, per- 
haps, that labor is the measure of value, but "embrace, as do 
generous minds, the proposition of labor shared by all." He 
would go deeper than political economics, strain out the self- 
factor from both theories, and make the measure of each pretty 
much the same, so that the natural (the majority) would win, 
but not to the disadvantage of the minority (the artificial) be- 
cause this has disappeared— it is of the majority. John Stuart 
Mill's political economy is losing value because it was written 



Emerson 127 

by a mind more "a banker's" than a "poet's." The poet knows 
that there is no such thing as the perpetual law of supply and 
demand, perhaps not of demand and supply— or of the wage- 
fund, or price-level, or increments earned or unearned; and 
that the existence of personal or public property may not prove 
the existence of God. 

Emerson seems to use the great definite interests of human- 
ity to express the greater, indefinite, spiritual values— to fulfill 
what he can in his realms of revelation. Thus, it seems that so 
close a relation exists between his content and expression, his 
substance and manner, that if he were more definite in the 
latter he would lose power in the former,— perhaps some of 
those occasional flashes would have been unexpressed— flashes 
that have gone down through the world and will flame on 
through the ages— flashes that approach as near the Divine as 
Beethoven in his most inspired moments— flashes of transcendent 
beauty, of such universal import, that they may bring, of a 
sudden, some intimate personal experience, and produce the 
same indescribable effect that comes in rare instances, to men, 
from some common sensation. In the early morning of a Memo- 
rial Day, a boy is awakened by martial music— a village band 
is marching down the street, and as the strains of Reeves' majes- 
tic Seventh Regiment March come nearer and nearer, he seems 
of a sudden translated— a moment of vivid power comes, a 
consciousness of material nobility, an exultant something gleam- 
ing with the possibilities of this life, an assurance that nothing 
is impossible, and that the whole world lies at his feet. But as 
the band turns the corner, at the soldiers' monument, and the 
march steps of the Grand Army become fainter and fainter, the 
boy's vision slowly vanishes— his "world" becomes less and less 
probable— but the experience ever lies within him in its reality. 
Later in life, the same boy hears the Sabbath morning bell ring- 
ing out from the white steeple at the "Center," and as it draws 
him to it, through the autumn fields of sumach and asters, a 
Gospel hymn of simple devotion comes out to him— "There's a 
wideness in God's mercy"— an instant suggestion of that 
Memorial Day morning comes— but the moment is of deeper 
import— there is no personal exultation— no intimate world 
vision— no magnified personal hope— and in their place a 



128 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

profound sense of a spiritual truth,— a sin within reach of 
forgiveness— and as the hymn voices die away, there lies at his 
feet— not the world, but the figure of the Saviour— he sees an 
unfathomable courage, an immortality for the lowest, the vast- 
ness in humility, the kindness of the human heart, man's noblest 
strength, and he knows that God is nothing— nothing but love! 
Whence cometh the wonder of a moment? From sources we 
know not. But we do know that from obscurity, and from this 
higher Orpheus come measures of sphere melodies 1 flowing in 
wild, native tones, ravaging the souls of men, flowing now with 
thousand-fold accompaniments and rich symphonies through all 
our hearts; modulating and divinely leading them. 



What is character? In how far does it sustain the soul or the 
soul it? Is it a part of the soul? And then— what is the soul? 
Plato knows but cannot tell us. Every new-born man knows, but 
no one tells us. "Nature will not be disposed of easily. No power 
of genius has ever yet had the smallest success in explaining 
existence. The perfect enigma remains." As every blind man 
sees the sun, so character may be the part of the soul we, the 
blind, can see, and then have the right to imagine that the 
soul is each man's share of God, and character the muscle which 
tries to reveal its mysteries— a kind of its first visible radiance— 
the right to know that it is the voice which is always calling the 
pragmatist a fool. 

At any rate, it can be said that Emerson's character has 
much to do with his power upon us. Men who have known 
nothing of his life, have borne witness to this. It is directly at 
the root of his substance, and affects his manner only indirectly. 
It gives the sincerity to the constant spiritual hopefulness we are 
always conscious of, and which carries with it often, even when 
the expression is somber, a note of exultation in the victories 
of "the innate virtues" of man. And it is this, perhaps, that 
makes us feel his courage— not a self-courage, but a sympathetic 
one— courageous even to tenderness. It is the open courage of a 

l Paraphrased from a passage in Sartor Resartus. 



Emerson 129 

kind heart, of not forcing opinions— a thing much needed when 
the cowardly, underhanded courage of the fanatic would force 
opinion. It is the courage of believing in freedom, per se, rather 
than of trying to force everyone to see that you believe in it— the 
courage of the willingness to be reformed, rather than of reform- 
ing—the courage teaching that sacrifice is bravery, and force, fear. 
The courage of righteous indignation, of stammering eloquence, 
of spiritual insight, a courage ever contracting or unfolding a 
philosophy as it grows— a courage that would make the impos- 
sible possible. Oliver Wendell Holmes says that Emerson at- 
tempted the impossible in the Over-Soul— 'an overflow of 
spiritual imagination." But he (Emerson) accomplished the 
impossible in attempting it, and still leaving it impossible. A 
courageous struggle to satisfy, as Thoreau says, "Hunger rather 
than the palate"— the hunger of a lifetime sometimes by one 
meal. His essay on the Pre-Soul (which he did not write) treats 
of that part of the over-soul's influence on unborn ages, and 
attempts the impossible only when it stops attempting it. 

Like all courageous souls, the higher Emerson soars, the 
more lowly he becomes. "Do you think the porter and the cook 
have no experiences, no wonders for you? Everyone knows as 
much as the Savant." To some, the way to be humble is to 
admonish the humble, not learn from them. Carlyle would have 
Emerson teach by more definite signs, rather than interpret his 
revelations, or shall we say preach? Admitting all the inspiration 
and help that Sartor Resartus has given in spite of its vaudeville 
and tragic stages, to many young men getting under way in the 
life of tailor or king, we believe it can be said (but very broadly 
said) that Emerson, either in the first or second series of essays, 
taken as a whole, gives, it seems to us, greater inspiration, partly 
because his manner is less didactic, less personally suggestive, 
perhaps less clearly or obviously human than Carlyle's. How 
direct this inspiration is is a matter of personal viewpoint, tem- 
perament, perhaps inheritance. Augustine Birrell says he does not 
feel it— and he seems not to even indirectly. Apparently "a non- 
sequacious author" can't inspire him, for Emerson seems to him 
a "little thin and vague." Is Emerson or the English climate to 
blame for this? He, Birrell, says a really great author dissipates 
all fears as to his staying power. (Though fears for our staying- 



130 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

power, not Emerson's, is what we would like dissipated.) Besides, 
around a really great author, there are no fears to dissipate. "A 
wise author never allows his reader's mind to be at large," but 
Emerson is not a wise author. His essay on Prudence has nothing 
to do with prudence, for to be wise and prudent he must put 
explanation first, and let his substance dissolve because of it. 
"How carefully," says Birrell again, "a really great author like 
Dr. Newman, or M. Renan, explains to you what he is going 
to do, and how he is going to do it." Personally we like the 
chance of having a hand in the "explaining." We prefer to look 
at flowers, but not through a botany, for it seems that if we look 
at them alone, we see a beauty of Nature's poetry, a direct gift 
from the Divine, and if we look at botany alone, we see the 
beauty of Nature's intellect, a direct gift of the Divine— if we 
look at both together, we see nothing. 

Thus it seems that Carlyle and Birrell would have it that 
courage and humility have something to do with "explanation" 
—and that it is not "a respect for all"— a faith in the power of 
"innate virtue" to perceive by "relativeness rather than pene- 
tration"— that causes Emerson to withhold explanation to a 
greater degree than many writers. Carlyle asks for more utility, 
and Birrell for more inspiration. But we like to believe that it 
is the height of Emerson's character, evidenced especially in his 
courage and humility that shades its quality, rather than that 
its virtue is less— that it is his height that will make him more 
and more valuable and more and more within the reach of all — 
whether it be by utility, inspiration, or other needs of the human 
soul. 

Cannot some of the most valuable kinds of utility and 
inspiration come from humility in its highest and purest forms? 
for is not the truest kind of humility a kind of glorified or 
transcendent democracy— the practicing it rather than the talk- 
ing it— the not-wanting to level all finite things, but the being 
willing to be leveled towards the infinite? Until humility pro- 
duces that frame of mind and spirit in the artist can his audience 
gain the greatest kind of utility and inspiration, which might be 
quite invisible at first? Emerson realizes the value of "the 
many,"— that the law of averages has a divine source. He recog- 
nizes the various life-values in reality— not by reason of their 



Emerson 131 

closeness or remoteness, but because he sympathizes with men 
who live them, and the majority do. "The private store of reason 
is not great— would that there were a public store for man," cries 
Pascal, but there is, says Emerson, it is the universal mind, an 
institution congenital with the common or over-soul. Pascal is 
discouraged, for he lets himself be influenced by surface political 
and religious history which shows the struggle of the group, 
led by an individual, rather than that of the individual 
led by himself— a struggle as much privately caused as 
privately led. The main-path of all social progress has been 
spiritual rather than intellectual in character, but the many by- 
paths of individual-materialism, though never obliterating the 
highway, have dimmed its outlines and caused travelers to con- 
fuse the colors along the road. A more natural way of freeing 
the congestion in the benefits of material progress will make it 
less difficult for the majority to recognize the true relation 
between the important spiritual and religious values and the 
less important intellectual and economic values. As the action 
of the intellect and universal mind becomes more and more 
identical, the clearer will the relation of all values become. But 
for physical reasons, the group has had to depend upon the 
individual as leaders, and the leaders with few exceptions re- 
strained the universal mind— they trusted to the "private store," 
but now, thanks to the lessons of evolution, which Nature has 
been teaching men since and before the days of Socrates, the 
public store of reason is gradually taking the place of the once- 
needed leader. From the Chaldean tablet to the wireless message 
this public store has been wonderfully opened. The results of 
these lessons, the possibilities they are offering for ever coordi- 
nating the mind of humanity, the culmination of this age-instruc- 
tion, are seen to-day in many ways. Labor Federation, Suffrage 
Extension, are two instances that come to mind among the many. 
In these manifestations, by reason of tradition, or the bad-habit 
part of tradition, the hog-mind of the few (the minority), comes 
in play. The possessors of this are called leaders, but even these 
"thick-skins" are beginning to see that the movement is the 
leader, ajid that they are only clerks. Broadly speaking, the 
effects evidenced in the political side of history have so much of 
the physical because the causes have been so much of the physi- 



132 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

cal. As a result the leaders for the most part have been under- 
average men, with skins thick, wits slick, and hands quick with 
under-values, otherwise they would not have become leaders. 
But the day of leaders, as such, is gradually closing— the people 
are beginning to lead themselves— the public store of reason is 
slowly being opened— the common universal mind and the com- 
mon over-soul is slowly but inevitably coming into its own. "Let 
a man believe in God, not in names and places and persons. 
Let the great soul incarnated in some poor . . . sad and simple 
Joan, go out to service and sweep chimneys and scrub floors 
... its effulgent day beams cannot be muffled . . ." and then 
"to sweep and scrub will instantly appear supreme and beautiful 
actions . . . and all people will get brooms and mops." Perhaps, 
if all of Emerson— his works and his life— were to be swept away, 
and nothing of him but the record of the following incident re- 
mained to men— the influence of his soul would still be great. 
A working woman after coming from one of his lectures said: 
"I love to go to hear Emerson, not because I understand him, 
but because he looks as though he thought everybody was as 
good as he was." Is it not the courage— the spiritual hopefulness 
in his humility that makes this story possible and true? Is it 
not this trait in his character that sets him above all creeds— that 
gives him inspired belief in the common mind and soul? Is it 
not this courageous universalism that gives conviction to his 
prophecy and that makes his symphonies of revelation begin and 
end with nothing but the strength and beauty of innate goodness 
in man, in Nature and in God, the greatest and most inspiring 
theme of Concord Transcendental Philosophy, as we hear it. 

And it is from such a world-compelling theme and from 
such vantage ground, that Emerson rises to almost perfect free- 
dom of action, of thought and of soul, in any direction and 
to any height. A vantage ground, somewhat vaster than Schel- 
ling's conception of transcendental philosophy— "a philosophy 
of Nature become subjective." In Concord it includes the ob- 
jective and becomes subjective to nothing but freedom and the 
absolute law. It is this underlying courage of the purest humility 
that gives Emerson that outward aspect of serenity which is 
felt to so great an extent in much of his work, especially in his 
codas and perorations. And within this poised strength, we are 



Hawthorne 133 

conscious of that "original authentic fire" which Emerson missed 
in Shelley— we are conscious of something that is not dispassion- 
ate, something that is at times almost turbulent— a kind of 
furious calm lying deeply in the conviction of the eventual 
triumph of the soul and its union with God! 

Let us place the transcendent Emerson where he, himself, 
places Milton, in Wordsworth's apostrophe: "Pure as the naked 
heavens, majestic, free, so didst thou travel on life's common 
way in cheerful Godliness." 

The Godliness of spiritual courage and hopefulness— these 
fathers of faith rise to a glorified peace in the depth of his 
greater perorations. There is an "oracle" at the beginning of 
the Fifth Symphony— in those four notes lies one of Beethoven's 
greatest messages. We would place its translation above the 
relentlessness of fate knocking at the door, above the greater 
human-message of destiny, and strive to bring it towards the 
spiritual message of Emerson's revelations— even to the "common 
heart" of Concord— the Soul of humanity knocking at the door of 
the Divine mysteries, radiant in the faith that it will be opened 
—and the human become the Divine! 



7/7 Hawthorne 

The substance of Hawthorne is so drip- 
ping wet with the supernatural, the phantasmal, the mystical— so 
surcharged with adventures, from the deeper picturesque to the 
illusive fantastic, one unconsciously finds oneself thinking of 
him as a poet of greater imaginative impulse than Emerson or 
Thoreau. He was not a greater poet possibly than they— but a 
greater artist. Not only the character of his substance, but the 
care in his manner throws his workmanship, in contrast to theirs, 
into a kind of bas-relief. Like Poe he quite naturally and uncon- 
sciously reaches out over his subject to his reader. His mesmerism 
seeks to mesmerize us— beyond Zenobia's sister. But he is too 
great an artist to show his hand "in getting his audience," as 
Poe and Tschaikowsky occasionally do. His intellectual muscles 



134 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

are too strong to let him become over-influenced, as Ravel and 
Stravinsky seem to be by the morbidly fascinating— a kind of 
false beauty obtained by artistic monotony. However, we cannot 
but feel that he would weave his spell over us— as would the 
Grimms and ^Esop. We feel as much under magic as the "En- 
chanted Frog." This is part of the artist's business. The effect is 
a part of his art-effort in its inception. Emerson's substance and 
even his manner has little to do with a designed effect— his 
thunderbolts or delicate fragments are flashed out regardless— 
they may knock us down or just spatter us— it matters little to 
him— but Hawthorne is more considerate; that is, he is more 
artistic, as men say. 

Hawthorne may be more noticeably indigenous or may 
have more local color, perhaps more national color than his 
Concord contemporaries. But the work of anyone who is some- 
what more interested in psychology than in transcendental 
philosophy, will weave itself around individuals and their per- 
sonalities. If the same anyone happens to live in Salem, his 
work is likely to be colored by the Salem wharves and Salem 
witches. If the same anyone happens to live in the "Old Manse" 
near the Concord Battle Bridge, he is likely "of a rainy day to 
betake himself to the huge garret," the secrets of which he 
wonders at, "but is too reverent of their dust and cobwebs to 
disturb." He is likely to "bow below the shriveled canvas of 
an old (Puritan) clergyman in wig and gown— the parish priest 
of a century ago— a friend of Whitefield." He is likely to come 
under the spell of this reverend Ghost who haunts the "Manse" 
and as it rains and darkens and the sky glooms through the 
dusty attic windows, he is likely "to muse deeply and wonder- 
ingly upon the humiliating fact that the works of man's intellect 
decay like those of his hands" . . . "that thought grows moldy," 
and as the garret is in Massachusetts, the "thought" and the 
"mold" are likely to be quite native. When the same anyone puts 
his poetry into novels rather than essays, he is likely to have 
more to say about the life around him— about the inherited 
mystery of the town— than a poet of philosophy is. 

In Hawthorne's usual vicinity, the atmosphere was charged 
with the somber errors and romance of eighteenth century New 
England,— ascetic or noble New England as you like. A novel, 



Hawthorne 135 

of necessity, nails an art-effort down to some definite part or 
parts of the earth's surface— the novelist's wagon can't always 
be hitched to a star. To say that Hawthorne was more deeply 
interested than some of the other Concord writers— Emerson, for 
example— in the idealism peculiar to his native land (in so far 
as such idealism of a country can be conceived of as separate 
from the political) would be as unreasoning as to hold that he 
was more interested in social progress than Thoreau, because 
he was in the consular service and Thoreau was in no one's 
service— or that the War Governor of Massachusetts was a greater 
patriot than Wendell Phillips, who was ashamed of all political 
parties. Hawthorne's art was true and typically American— as 
is the art of all men living in America who believe in freedom 
of thought and who live wholesome lives to prove it, whatever 
their means of expression. 

Any comprehensive conception of Hawthorne, either in 
words or music, must have for its basic theme something that has 
to do with the influence of sin upon the conscience— something 
more than the Puritan conscience, but something which is per- 
meated by it. In this relation he is wont to use what Hazlitt 
calls the "moral power of imagination." Hawthorne would try 
to spiritualize a guilty conscience. He would sing of the relent- 
lessness of guilt, the inheritance of guilt, the shadow of guilt 
darkening innocent posterity. All of its sins and morbid horrors, 
its specters, its phantasmas, and even its hellish hopelessness 
play around his pages, and vanishing between the lines are the 
less guilty Elves of the Concord Elms, which Thoreau and Old 
Man Alcott may have felt, but knew not as intimately as Haw- 
thorne. There is often a pervading melancholy about Hawthorne, 
as Faguet says of de Musset "without posture, without noise but 
penetrating." There is at times the mysticism and serenity of 
the ocean, which Jules Michelet sees in "its horizon rather than 
in its waters." There is a sensitiveness to supernatural sound 
waves. Hawthorne feels the mysteries and tries to paint them 
rather than explain them— and here, some may say that he is 
wiser in a more practical way and so more artistic than Emerson. 
Perhaps so, but no greater in the deeper ranges and profound 
mysteries of the interrelated worlds of human and spiritual life. 

This fundamental part of Hawthorne is not attempted in 



136 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

our music (the 2d movement of the series) which is but an 
"extended fragment" trying to suggest some of his wilder, 
fantastical adventures into the half-childlike, half-fairylike phan- 
tasmal realms. It may have something to do with the children's 
excitement on that "frosty Berkshire morning, and the frost 
imagery on the enchanted hall window" or something to do 
with "Feathertop," the "Scarecrow," and his "Looking Glass" and 
the little demons dancing around his pipe bowl; or something to 
do with the old hymn tune that haunts the church and sings only 
to those in the churchyard, to protect them from secular noises, 
as when the circus parade comes down Main Street; or some- 
thing to do with the concert at the Stamford camp meeting, or 
the "Slave's Shuffle"; or something to do with the Concord he- 
nymph, or the "Seven Vagabonds," or "Circe's Palace," or some- 
thing else in the wonderbook— not something that happens, but 
the way something happens; or something to do with the 
"Celestial Railroad," or "Phcebe's Garden," or something per- 
sonal, which tries to be "national" suddenly at twilight, and 
universal suddenly at midnight; or something about the ghost of 
a man who never lived, or about something that never will hap- 
pen, or something else that is not. 



IV "TheAlcotts" 

If the dictagraph had been perfected in 
Bronson Alcott's time, he might now be a great writer. As it 
is, he goes down as Concord's greatest talker. "Great expecter," 
says Thoreau; "great feller," says Sam Staples, "for talkin' big 
. . . but his daughters is the gals though— always doin' some- 
thin'." Old Man Alcott, however, was usually "doin' somethin' " 
within. An internal grandiloquence made him melodious with- 
out; an exuberant, irrepressible, visionary absorbed with philos- 
ophy as such; to him it was a kind of transcendental business, 
the profits of which supported his inner man rather than his 
family. Apparently his deep interest in spiritual physics, rather 
than metaphysics, gave a kind of hypnotic mellifluous effect to 
his voice when he sang his oracles; a manner something of a 



"The Alcotts" 137 

cross between an inside pompous self-assertion and an outside 
serious benevolence. But he was sincere and kindly intentioned 
in his eagerness to extend what he could of the better influence 
of the philosophic world as he saw it. In fact, there is a strong 
didactic streak in both father and daughter. Louisa May seldom 
misses a chance to bring out the moral of a homely virtue. The 
power of repetition was to them a natural means of illustration. 
It is said that the elder Alcott, while teaching school, would fre- 
quently whip himself when the scholars misbehaved, to show 
that the Divine Teacher— God— was pained when his children of 
the earth were bad. Quite often the boy next to the bad boy 
was punished, to show how sin involved the guiltless. And Miss 
Alcott is fond of working her story around, so that she can 
better rub in a moral precept— and the moral sometimes brow- 
beats the story. But with all the elder Alcott's vehement, imprac- 
ticable, visionary qualities, there was a sturdiness and a courage 
—at least, we like to think so. A Yankee boy who would cheer- 
fully travel in those days, when distances were long and un- 
motored, as far from Connecticut as the Carolinas, earning his 
way by peddling, laying down his pack to teach school when 
opportunity offered, must possess a basic sturdiness. This was 
apparently not very evident when he got to preaching his ideal- 
ism. An incident in Alcott's life helps confirm a theory— not a 
popular one— that men accustomed to wander around in the 
visionary unknown are the quickest and strongest when occasion 
requires ready action of the lower virtues. It often appears that 
a contemplative mind is more capable of action than an actively 
objective one. Dr. Emerson says: "It is good to know that it 
has been recorded of Alcott, the benign idealist, that when the 
Rev. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, heading the rush on the 
U. S. Court House in Boston, to rescue a fugitive slave, looked 
back for his following at the court-room door, only the apostolic 
philosopher was there cane in hand." So it seems that his ideal- 
ism had some substantial virtues, even if he couldn't make a 
living. 

The daughter does not accept the father as a prototype— she 
seems to have but few of her father's qualities "in female." She 
supported the family and at the same time enriched the lives of 
a large part of young America, starting off many little minds 



138 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

with wholesome thoughts and many little hearts with wholesome 
emotions. She leaves memory-word-pictures of healthy, New 
England childhood days,— pictures which are turned to with 
affection by middle-aged children,— pictures, that bear a senti- 
ment, a leaven, that middle-aged America needs nowadays more 
than we care to admit. 

Concord village, itself, reminds one of that common virtue 
lying at the height and root of all the Concord divinities. As 
one walks down the broad-arched street, passing the white house 
of Emerson— ascetic guard of a former prophetic beauty— he 
comes presently beneath the old elms overspreading the Alcott 
house. It seems to stand as a kind of homely but beautiful wit- 
ness of Concord's common virtue— it seems to bear a conscious- 
ness that its past is living, that the "mosses of the Old Manse" 
and the hickories of Walden are not far away. Here is the home 
of the "Marches"— all pervaded with the trials and happiness of 
the family and telling, in a simple way, the story of "the richness 
of not having." Within the house, on every side, lie remem- 
brances of what imagination can do for the better amusement of 
fortunate children who have to do for themselves— much-needed 
lessons in these days of automatic, ready-made, easy entertain- 
ment which deaden rather than stimulate the creative faculty. 
And there sits the little old spinet-piano Sophia Thoreau gave to 
the Alcott children, on which Beth played the old Scotch airs, 
and played at the Fifth Symphony. 

There is a commonplace beauty about "Orchard House"— a 
kind of spiritual sturdiness underlying its quaint picturesque- 
ness— a kind of common triad of the New England homestead, 
whose overtones tell us that there must have been something 
aesthetic fibered in the Puritan severity— the self-sacrificing part 
of the ideal— a value that seems to stir a deeper feeling, a 
stronger sense of being nearer some perfect truth than a Gothic 
cathedral or an Etruscan villa. All around you, under the Con- 
cord sky, there still floats the influence of that human faith 
melody, transcendent and sentimental enough for the enthu- 
siast or the cynic respectively, reflecting an innate hope— a com- 
mon interest in common things and common men— a tune the 
Concord bards are ever playing, while they pound away at the 
immensities with a Beethovenlike sublimity, and with, may we 



Thoreau 139 

say, a vehemence and perseverance— for that part of greatness 
is not so difficult to emulate. 

We dare not attempt to follow the philosophic raptures of 
Bronson Alcott— unless you will assume that his apotheosis will 
show how "practical" his vision in this world would be in the 
next. And so we won't try to reconcile the music sketch of the 
Alcotts with much besides the memory of that home under the 
elms— the Scotch songs and the family hymns that were sung 
at the end of each day— though there may be an attempt to catch 
something of that common sentiment (which we have tried to 
suggest above)— a strength of hope that never gives way to de- 
spair—a conviction in the power of the common soul which, 
when all is said and done, may be as typical as any theme of 
Concord and its transcendentalists. 



V Thoreau 

Thoreau was a great musician, not be- 
cause he played the flute but because he did not have to go 
to Boston to hear "the Symphony." The rhythm of his prose, 
were there nothing else, would determine his value as a com- 
poser. He was divinely conscious of the enthusiasm of Nature, 
the emotion of her rhythms and the harmony of her solitude. 
In this consciousness he sang of the submission to Nature, the 
religion of contemplation, and the freedom of simplicity— a phi- 
losophy distinguishing between the complexity of Nature which 
teaches freedom, and the complexity of materialism which 
teaches slavery. In music, in poetry, in all art, the truth as one 
sees it must be given in terms which bear some proportion to 
the inspiration. In their greatest moments the inspiration of both 
Beethoven and Thoreau express profound truths and deep senti- 
ment, but the intimate passion of it, the storm and stress of it, 
affected Beethoven in such a way that he could not but be ever 
showing it and Thoreau that he could not easily expose it. They 
were equally imbued with it, but with different results. A differ- 
ence in temperament had something to do with this, together 
with a difference in the quality of expression between the two 



140 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

arts. "Who that has heard a strain of music feared lest he would 
speak extravagantly forever," says Thoreau. Perhaps music is the 
art of speaking extravagantly. Herbert Spencer says that some 
men, as for instance Mozart, are so peculiarly sensitive to emo- 
tion . . . that music is to them but a continuation not only of 
the expression but of the actual emotion, though the theory of 
some more modern thinkers in the philosophy of art doesn't al- 
ways bear this out. However, there is no doubt that in its nature 
music is predominantly subjective and tends to subjective ex- 
pression, and poetry more objective tending to objective expres- 
sion. Hence the poet when his muse calls for a deeper feeling 
must invert this order, and he may be reluctant to do so as these 
depths often call for an intimate expression which the physical 
looks of the words may repel. They tend to reveal the nakedness 
of his soul rather than its warmth. It is not a matter of the 
relative value of the aspiration, or a difference between subcon- 
sciousness and consciousness but a difference in the arts them- 
selves; for example, a composer may not shrink from having the 
public hear his "love letter in tones," while a poet may feel 
sensitive about having everyone read his "letter in words." When 
the object of the love is mankind the sensitiveness is changed 
only in degree. 

But the message of Thoreau, though his fervency may be 
inconstant and his human appeal not always direct, is, both 
in thought and spirit, as universal as that of any man who ever 
wrote or sang— as universal as it is nontemporaneous— as univer- 
sal as it is free from the measure of history, as "solitude is free 
from the measure of the miles of space that intervene between 
man and his fellows." In spite of the fact that Henry James (who 
knows almost everything) says that "Thoreau is more than provin- 
cial—that he is parochial," let us repeat that Henry Thoreau, in 
respect to thought, sentiment, imagination, and soul, in respect 
to every element except that of place of physical being— a thing 
that means so much to some— is as universal as any personality in 
literature. That he said upon being shown a specimen grass from 
Iceland that the same species could be found in Concord is 
evidence of his universality, not of his parochialism. He was so 
universal that he did not need to travel around the world to 
prove it. "I have more of God, they more of the road." "It is 



Thoreau 141 

not worth while to go around the world to count the cats in 
Zanzibar." With Marcus Aurelius, if he had seen the present he 
had seen all, from eternity and all time forever. 

Thoreau's susceptibility to natural sounds was probably 
greater than that of many practical musicians. True, this appeal 
is mainly through the sensational element which Herbert Spen- 
cer thinks the predominant beauty of music. Thoreau seems 
able to weave from this source some perfect transcendental 
symphonies. Strains from the Orient get the best of some of the 
modern French music but not of Thoreau. He seems more 
interested in than influenced by Oriental philosophy. He ad- 
mires its ways of resignation and self-contemplation but he 
doesn't contemplate himself in the same way. He often quotes 
from the Eastern scriptures passages which were they his own 
he would probably omit, i.e., the Vedas say "all intelligences 
awake with the morning." This seems unworthy of "accompany- 
ing the undulations of celestial music" found on this same page, 
in which an "ode to morning" is sung— "the awakening to newly 
acquired forces and aspirations from within to a higher life than 
we fell asleep from . . . for all memorable events transpire in the 
morning time and in the morning atmosphere." Thus it is not 
the whole tone scale of the Orient but the scale of a Walden 
morning— "music in single strains," as Emerson says, which in- 
spired many of the polyphonies and harmonies that come to us 
through his poetry. Who can be forever melancholy "with 
^Eolian music like this"? 

This is but one of many ways in which Thoreau looked to 
Nature for his greatest inspirations. In her he found an analogy 
to the Fundamental of Transcendentalism. The "innate good- 
ness" of Nature is or can be a moral influence; Mother Nature, 
if man will but let her, will keep him straight— straight spirit- 
ually and so morally and even mentally. If he will take her as 
a companion, and teacher, and not as a duty or a creed, she will 
give him greater thrills and teach him greater truths than man 
can give or teach— she will reveal mysteries that mankind has 
long concealed. It was the soul of Nature not natural history 
that Thoreau was after. A naturalist's mind is one predomi- 
nantly scientific, more interested in the relation of a flower to 
other flowers than its relation to any philosophy or anyone's 



142 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

philosophy. A transcendent love of Nature and writing "Rhus 
glabra" after sumach doesn't necessarily make a naturalist. It 
would seem that although thorough in observation (not very 
thorough according to Mr. Burroughs) and with a keen percep- 
tion of the specific, a naturalist— inherently— was exactly what 
Thoreau was not. He seems rather to let Nature put him under 
her microscope than to hold her under his. He was too fond of 
Nature to practice vivisection upon her. He would have found 
that painful, "for was he not a part with her?" But he had this 
trait of a naturalist, which is usually foreign to poets, even great 
ones; he observed acutely even things that did not particularly 
interest him— a useful natural gift rather than a virtue. 

The study of Nature may tend to make one dogmatic, but 
the love of Nature surely does not. Thoreau no more than 
Emerson could be said to have compounded doctrines. His 
thinking was too broad for that. If Thoreau's was a religion of 
Nature, as some say,— and by that they mean that through Na- 
ture's influence man is brought to a deeper contemplation, to a 
more spiritual self-scrutiny, and thus closer to God,— it had 
apparently no definite doctrines. Some of his theories regarding 
natural and social phenomena and his experiments in the art of 
living are certainly not doctrinal in form, and if they are in 
substance it didn't disturb Thoreau and it needn't us. . . . "In 
proportion as he simplifies his life the laws of the universe will 
appear less complex and solitude will not be solitude, nor pov- 
erty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in 
the air your work need not be lost; that is where they should be, 
now put the foundations under them." . . . "Then we will love 
with the license of a higher order of beings." Is that a doctrine? 
Perhaps. At any rate, between the lines of some such passage as 
this lie some of the fountain heads that water the spiritual fields 
of his philosophy and the seeds from which they are sown (if 
indeed his whole philosophy is but one spiritual garden). His 
experiments, social and economic, are a part of its cultivation 
and for the harvest— and its transmutation, he trusts to moments 
of inspiration— "only what is thought, said, and done at a certain 
rare coincidence is good." 

Thoreau's experiment at Walden was, broadly speaking, one 
of these moments. It stands out in the casual and popular opin- 



Thoreau 143 

ion as a kind of adventure— harmless and amusing to some, 
significant and important to others; but its significance lies in 
the fact that in trying to practice an ideal he prepared his mind 
so that it could better bring others "into the Walden-state-of- 
mind." He did not ask for a literal approval, or in fact for any 
approval. "I would not stand between any man and his genius." 
He would have no one adopt his manner of life, unless in 
doing so he adopts his own— besides, by that time "I may 
have found a better one." But if he preached hard he prac- 
ticed harder what he preached— harder than most men. 
Throughout Walden a text that he is always pounding 
out is "Time." Time for inside work out-of-doors; preferably 
out-of-doors, "though you perhaps may have some pleasant, 
thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor house." Wherever the 
place— time there must be. Time to show the unnecessariness of 
necessities which clog up time. Time to contemplate the value 
of man to the universe, of the universe to man, man's excuse for 
being. Time from the demands of social conventions. Time from 
too much labor for some, which means too much to eat, too 
much to wear, too much material, too much materialism for 
others. Time from the "hurry and waste of life." Time from the 
"St. Vitus Dance." But, on the other side of the ledger, time for 
learning that "there is no safety in stupidity alone." Time 
for introspection. Time for reality. Time for expansion. Time for 
practicing the art, of living the art of living. Thoreau has been 
criticized for practicing his policy of expansion by living in a 
vacuum— but he peopled that vacuum with a race of beings and 
established a social order there, surpassing any of the precepts 
in social or political history. "... for he put some things behind 
and passed an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more lib- 
eral laws were around and within him, the old laws were ex- 
panded and interpreted in a more liberal sense and he lived with 
the license of a higher order"— a community in which "God was 
the only President" and "Thoreau not Webster was His Orator." 
It is hard to believe that Thoreau really refused to believe that 
there was any other life but his own, though he probably did 
think that there was not any other life besides his own for him. 
Living for society may not always be best accomplished by living 
with society. "Is there any virtue in a man's skin that you must 



144 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

touch it?" and the "rubbing of elbows may not bring men's minds 
closer together"; or if he were talking through a "worst seller" 
(magazine) that "had to put it over" he might say, "forty thou- 
sand souls at a ball game does not, necessarily, make baseball 
the highest expression of spiritual emotion." Thoreau, however, 
is no cynic, either in character or thought, though in a side 
glance at himself, he may have held out to be one; a "cynic in 
independence," possibly because of his rule laid down that "self- 
culture admits of no compromise." 

It is conceivable that though some of his philosophy and a 
good deal of his personality, in some of its manifestations, have 
outward colors that do not seem to harmonize, the true and inti- 
mate relations they bear each other are not affected. This pecu- 
liarity, frequently seen in his attitude towards social-economic 
problems, is perhaps more emphasized in some of his personal 
outbursts. "I love my friends very much, but I find that it is of 
no use to go to see them. I hate them commonly when I am 
near." It is easier to see what he means than it is to forgive him 
for saying it. The cause of this apparent lack of harmony be- 
tween philosophy and personality, as far as they can be sepa- 
rated, may have been due to his refusal "to keep the very delicate 
balance" which Mr. Van Doren in his Critical Study of Thoreau 
says "it is necessary for a great and good man to keep between 
his public and private lives, between his own personality and 
the whole outside universe of personalities." Somehow one feels 
that if he had kept this balance he would have lost "hitting 
power." Again, it seems that something of the above depends 
upon the degree of greatness or goodness. A very great and es- 
pecially a very good man has no separate private and public 
life. His own personality though not identical with outside per- 
sonalities is so clear or can be so clear to them that it appears 
identical, and as the world progresses towards its inevitable 
perfection this appearance becomes more and more a reality. For 
the same reason that all great men now agree, in principle but 
not in detail, in so far as words are able to communicate agree- 
ment, on the great fundamental truths. Someone says: "Be 
specific— what great fundamentals?" Freedom over slavery; the 
natural over the artificial; beauty over ugliness; the spiritual 
over the material; the goodness of man; the Godness of man; 



Thoreau 145 

God; with all other kindred truths that have been growing in 
expression through the ages, eras, and civilizations, innate things 
which once seemed foreign to the soul of humankind. All great 
men— there are millions of them now— agree on these. Around 
the relative and the absolute value of an attribute, or quality, or 
whatever it may be called, is where the fight is. The relative not 
from the absolute— but of it, always of it. Geniuses— and there 
are millions of them— differ as to what is beautiful and what is 
ugly, as to what is right and what is wrong— there are many 
interpretations of God— but they all agree that beauty is better 
than ugliness and right is better than wrong, and that there is 
a God— all are one when they reach the essence. Every analysis 
of a criticism or quality of Thoreau invariably leads back and 
stands us against the great problems of life and eternity. It is a 
fair indication of the greatness of his problems and ideals. 

The unsympathetic treatment accorded Thoreau on account 
of the false colors that his personality apparently gave to some 
of his important ideas and virtues, might be lessened if it were 
more constantly remembered that a command of his to-day is 
but a mood of yesterday and a contradiction to-morrow. He is 
too volatile to paint, much less to catalogue. If Thoreau did 
not over-say he said nothing. He says so himself. "I desire to 
speak somewhere without bounds like a man in a waking mo- 
ment to men in their waking moments . . . for I am convinced 
that I cannot exaggerate enough even to lay a foundation for a 
true expression." For all that, it is not safe to think that he 
should never be taken literally, as for instance in the sentence 
above. His extravagance at times involves him but Thoreau 
never rejoices in it as Meredith seems to. He struggles against it 
and seems as much ashamed of being involved as the latter seems 
of not being. He seldom gets into the situation of Meredith— tim- 
idly wandering around with no clothes after stepping out of one 
of his involvedensities. This habit may be a part of the novelists' 
license, for perhaps their inspiration is less original and less 
natural than that of the poets, as traits of human weakness are 
unnatural to or "not an innate part with human nature." Per- 
haps if they (novelists) had broader sources for their inspiration 
they would hardly need licenses and perhaps they would hardly 
become novelists. For the same reason that Shakespeare might 



146 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

have been greater if he hadn't written plays. Some say that a 
true composer will never write an opera because a truly brave 
man will not take a drink to keep up his courage; which is not 
the same thing as saying that Shakespeare is not the greatest 
figure in all literature; in fact, it is an attempt to say that many 
novels, most operas, all Shakespeares, and all brave men and 
women (rum or no rum) are among the noblest blessings with 
which God has endowed mankind— because, not being perfect, 
they are perfect examples pointing to that perfection which 
nothing yet has attained. 

Thoreau's mysticism at times throws him into elusive moods 
—but an elusiveness held by a thread to something concrete and 
specific, for he had too much integrity of mind for any other 
kind. In these moments it is easier to follow his thought than 
to follow him. Indeed, if he were always easy to follow, after 
one had caught up with him, one might find that it was not 
Thoreau. 

It is, however, with no mystic rod that he strikes at institu- 
tional life. Here again he felt the influence of the great transcen- 
dental doctrine of "innate goodness" in human nature— a 
reflection of the like in nature; a philosophic part which, by the 
way, was a more direct inheritance in Thoreau than in his 
brother transcendentalists. For besides what he received from a 
native Unitarianism a good part must have descended to him 
through his Huguenot blood from the "eighteenth-century 
French philosophy." We trace a reason here for his lack of in- 
terest in "the church." For if revealed religion is the path be- 
tween God and man's spiritual part— a kind of formal causeway 
—Thoreau's highly developed spiritual life felt, apparently 
unconsciously, less need of it than most men. But he might have 
been more charitable towards those who do need it (and most 
of- us do) if he had been more conscious of his freedom. Those 
who look to-day for the cause of a seeming deterioration in the 
influence of the church may find it in a wider development of 
this feeling of Thoreau's; that the need is less because there is 
more of the spirit of Christianity in the world to-day. Another 
cause for his attitude towards the church as an institution is one 
always too common among "the narrow minds" to have influ- 
enced Thoreau. He could have been more generous. He took the 



Thoreau 147 

arc for the circle, the exception for the rule, the solitary bad 
example for the many good ones. His persistent emphasis on 
the value of "example" may excuse this lower viewpoint. "The 
silent influence of the example of one sincere life . . . has bene- 
fited society more than all the projects devised for its salvation." 
He has little patience for the unpracticing preacher. "In some 
countries a hunting parson is no uncommon sight. Such a one 
might make a good shepherd dog but is far from being a good 
shepherd." It would have been interesting to have seen him 
handle the speculating parson, who takes a good salary— more 
per annum than all the disciples had to sustain their bodies 
during their whole lives— from a metropolitan religious corpo- 
ration for "speculating" on Sunday about the beauty of poverty, 
who preaches: "Take no thought (for your life) what ye shall 
eat or what ye shall drink nor yet what ye shall put on . . . lay 
not up for yourself treasure upon earth . . . take up thy cross 
and follow me"; who on Monday becomes a "speculating" dis- 
ciple of another god, and by questionable investments, successful 
enough to get into the "press," seeks to lay up a treasure of a 
million dollars for his old age, as if a million dollars could keep 
such a man out of the poor-house. Thoreau might observe that 
this one good example of Christian degeneracy undoes all the 
acts of regeneracy of a thousand humble five-hundred-dollar 
country parsons; that it out-influences the "unconscious influ- 
ence" of a dozen Dr. Bushnells if there be that many; that the 
repentance of this man who did not "fall from grace" because he 
never fell into it— that this unnecessary repentance might save 
this man's own soul but not necessarily the souls of the million 
head-line readers; that repentance would put this preacher right 
with the powers that be in this world— and the next. Thoreau 
might pass a remark upon this man's intimacy with God "as if 
he had a monopoly of the subject"— an intimacy that perhaps 
kept him from asking God exactly what his Son meant by the 
"camel," the "needle"— to say nothing of the "rich man." Thor- 
eau might have wondered how this man nailed down the last 
plank in his bridge to salvation, by rising to sublime heights of 
patriotism, in his war against materialism; but would even 
Thoreau be so unfeeling as to suggest to this exhorter that his 
salvation might be clinched "if he would sacrifice his income" 



148 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

(not himself) and come-in to a real Salvation Army, or that the 
final triumph, the supreme happiness in casting aside this mere 
$10,000 or $20,000 every year must be denied him— for was he 
not captain of the ship— must he not stick to his passengers (in 
the first cabin— the very first cabin)— not that the ship was sink- 
ing but that he was ... we will go no further. Even Thoreau 
would not demand sacrifice for sacrifice sake— no, not even from 
Nature. 

Property from the standpoint of its influence in checking 
natural self-expansion and from the standpoint of personal and 
inherent right is another institution that comes in for straight 
and cross-arm jabs, now to the stomach, now to the head, but 
seldom sparring for breath. For does he not say that "wherever 
a man goes, men will pursue him with their dirty institutions"? 
The influence of property, as he saw it, on morality or immoral- 
ity and how through this it may or should influence "govern- 
ment" is seen by the following: "I am convinced that if all men 
were to live as simply as I did, then thieving and robbery would 
be unknown. These take place only in communities where some 
have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough- 
Nee bella fuerunt, 
Faginus astabat dum 
Scyphus ante dapes — 

You who govern public affairs, what need have you to employ 
punishments? Have virtue and the people will be virtuous." If 
Thoreau had made the first sentence read: "If all men were like 
me and were to live as simply," etc., everyone would agree with 
him. We may wonder here how he would account for some of 
the degenerate types we are told about in some of our backwoods 
and mountain regions. Possibly by assuming that they are an 
instance of perversion of the species. That the little civilizing 
their forbears experienced rendered these people more suscepti- 
ble to the physical than to the spiritual influence of nature; in 
other words; if they had been purer naturists, as the Aztecs for 
example, they would have been purer men. Instead of turning 
to any theory of ours or of Thoreau for the true explanation of 
this condition— which is a kind of pseudo-naturalism— for its 
true diagnosis and permanent cure, are we not far more certain 



Thoreau 149 

to find it in the radiant look of humility, love, and hope in the 
strong faces of those inspired souls who are devoting their lives 
with no little sacrifice to these outcasts of civilization and nature. 
In truth, may not mankind find the solution of its eternal prob- 
lem—find it after and beyond the last, most perfect system of 
wealth distribution which science can ever devise— after and 
beyond the last sublime echo of the greatest socialistic sympho- 
nies—after and beyond every transcendent thought and expres- 
sion in the simple example of these Christ-inspired souls— be 
they Pagan, Gentile, Jew, or angel. 

However, underlying the practical or impractical sugges- 
tions implied in the quotation above, which is from the last 
paragraph of Thoreau's Village, is the same transcendental 
theme of "innate goodness." For this reason there must be no 
limitation except that which will free mankind from limitation, 
and from a perversion of this "innate" possession.- And "prop- 
erty" may be one of the causes of this perversion— property in 
the two relations cited above. It is conceivable that Thoreau, 
to the consternation of the richest members of the Bolsheviki 
and Bourgeois, would propose a policy of liberation, a policy 
of a limited personal property right, on the ground that con- 
gestion of personal property tends to limit the progress of the 
soul (as well as the progress of the stomach)— letting the eco- 
nomic noise thereupon take care of itself— for dissonances are 
becoming beautiful— and do not the same waters that roar in 
a storm take care of the eventual calm? That this limit of 
property be determined not by the voice of the majority but 
by the brain of the majority under a government limited to no 
national boundaries. "The government of the world I live in 
is not framed in after-dinner conversation"— around a table in 
a capital city, for there is no capital— a government of principles 
not parties; of a few fundamental truths and not of many 
political expediencies. A government conducted by virtuous 
leaders, for it will be led by all, for all are virtuous, as then their 
"innate virtue" will no more be perverted by unnatural institu- 
tions. This will not be a millennium but a practical and 
possible application of uncommon common sense. For is it not 
sense, common or otherwise, for Nature to want to hand back 
the earth to those to whom it belongs— that is, to those who 



150 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

have to live on it? Is it not sense, that the average brains like 
the average stomachs will act rightly if they have an equal 
amount of the right kind of food to act upon and universal 
education is on the way with the right kind of food? Is it not 
sense then that all grown men and women (for all are necessary 
to work out the divine "law of averages") shall have a direct 
not an indirect say about the things that go on in this world? 

Some of these attitudes, ungenerous or radical, generous or 
conservative (as \ou will), towards Institutions deal to many, 
have no doubt given impressions unfavorable to Thoreau's 
thought and personality. One heats him (ailed, b\ some who 
ought to know what the) sa) and sour- who ought not, a crabbed, 
cold-hearted, sour-faced Yankee—a kind of a visionary sore-head 
—a cross-grained, egotistu recluse,— even non-hearted. But it is 
easier to make a statement than prove a reputation. Thoreau 
may be some of these things to those who make no distinction 
between these qualities and the manner which often comes as 
a kind of by-product of an intense devotion ol a principle 
or ideal. He was rude and unfriendly at times but shyness 
probably had something to do with that. In spite of a certain 
self-possession he was diffident in most company, but, though he 
may have been subject to those spells when words do not rise 
and the mind seems wrapped in a kind of dull cloth which 
everyone dumbly stares at, instead of looking through— he would 
easily get off a rejoinder upon occasion. When a party of visitors 
came to Walden and some one asked Thoreau if he found it 
lonely there, he replied: "Only by your help." A remark char- 
acteristic, true, rude, if not witty. The writer remembers hearing 
a schoolteacher in English literature dismiss Thoreau (and a 
half hour lesson, in which time all of Walden,— its surface— was 
sailed over) by saying that this author (he called everyone "au- 
thor" from Solomon down to Dr. Parkhurst) "was a kind of a 
crank who styled himself a hermit-naturalist and who idled 
about the woods because he didn't want to work." Some such 
stuff is a common conception, though not as common as it used 
to be. If this teacher had had more brains, it w r ould have been 
a lie. The w r ord idled is the hopeless part of this criticism, or 
rather of this uncritical remark. To ask this kind of a man, who 
plays all the "choice gems from celebrated composers" literally, 



Thoreau 151 

always literally, and always with the loud pedal, who plays all 
hymns, wrong notes, right notes, games, people, and jokes liter- 
ally, and with the loud pedal, who will die literally and with the 
loud pedal— to ask this man to smile even faintly at Thoreau's 
humor is like casting a pearl before a coal baron. Emerson im- 
plies that there is one thing a genius must have to be a genius 
and that is "mother wit." . . . "Doctor Johnson, Milton, Chaucer, 
and Burns had it. Aunt Mary Moody Emerson has it and can 
write scrap letters. Who has it need never write anything but 
scraps. Henry Thoreau has it." His humor though a part of this 
wit is not always as spontaneous, for it is sometimes pun shape 
(so is Charles Lamb's)— but it is nevertheless a kind that can 
serenely transport us and which we can enjoy without disturbing 
our neighbors. If there are those who think him cold-hearted 
and with but little human sympathy, let them read his letters to 
Emerson's little daughter, or hear Dr. Emerson tell about the 
Thoreau home life and the stories of his boyhood— the ministra- 
tions to a runaway slave; or let them ask old Sam Staples, the 
Concord sheriff about him. That he "was fond of a few intimate 
friends, but cared not one fig for people in the mass," is a state- 
ment made in a school history and which is superficially true. He 
cared too much for the masses— too much to let his personality 
be "massed"; too much to be unable to realize the futility of 
wearing his heart on his sleeve but not of wearing his path to 
the shore of "Walden" for future masses to walk over and per- 
chance find the way to themselves. Some near-satirists are fond 
of telling us that Thoreau came so close to Nature that she killed 
him before he had discovered her whole secret. They remind us 
that he died with consumption but forget that he lived with 
consumption. And without using much charity, this can be made 
to excuse many of his irascible and uncongenial moods. You to 
whom that gaunt face seems forbidding— look into the eyes! If 
he seems "dry and priggish" to you, Mr. Stevenson, "with little 
of that large unconscious geniality of the world's heroes," follow 
him some spring morning to Baker Farm, as he "rambles 
through pine groves . . . like temples, or like fleets at sea, full- 
rigged, with wavy boughs and rippling with light so soft and 
green and shady that the Druids would have forsaken their oaks 
to worship in them." Follow him to "the cedar wood beyond 



152 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

Flint's Pond, where the trees covered with hoary blue berries, 
spiring higher and higher, are fit to stand before Valhalla." 
Follow him, but not too closely, for you may see little, if you 
do— "as he walks in so pure and bright a light gilding its 
withered grass and leaves so softly and serenely bright that he 
thinks he has never bathed in such a golden flood." Follow him 
as "he saunters towards the holy land till one day the sun shall 
shine more brightly than ever it has done, perchance shine into 
your minds and hearts and light up your whole lives with a 
great awakening, light as warm and serene and golden as on a 
bankside in autumn." Follow him through the golden flood to 
the shore of that "holy land," where he lies dying as men say- 
dying as bravely as he lived. You may be near when his stern 
old aunt in the duty of her Puritan conscience asks him: "Have 
you made your peace with God"? and you may see his kindly 
smile as he replies, "I did not know that we had ever quarreled." 
Moments like these reflect more nobility and equanimity perhaps 
than geniality— qualities, however, more serviceable to world's 
heroes. 

The personal trait that one who has affection for Thoreau 
may find worst is a combative streak, in which he too often takes 
refuge. "An obstinate elusiveness," almost a "contrary cussed- 
ness," as if he would say, which he didn't: "If a truth about 
something is not as I think it ought to be, I'll make it what I 
think, and it will be the truth— but if you agree with me, then 
I begin to think it may not be the truth." The causes of these 
unpleasant colors (rather than characteristics) are too easily 
attributed to a lack of human sympathy or to the assumption 
that they are at least symbols of that lack instead of to a super- 
sensitiveness, magnified at times by ill health and at times by 
a subconsciousness of the futility of actually living out his ideals 
in this life. It has been said that his brave hopes were unrealized 
anywhere in his career— but it is certain that they started to be 
realized on or about May 6, 1862, and we doubt if 1920 will end 
their fulfillment or his career. But there were many in Concord 
who knew that within their village there was a tree of wondrous 
growth, the shadow of which— alas, too frequently— was the only 
part they were allowed to touch. Emerson was one of these. He 
was not only deeply conscious of Thoreau's rare gifts but in the 



Thoreau 153 

Woodland Notes pays a tribute to a side of his friend that many 
others missed. Emerson knew that Thoreau's sensibilities too 
often veiled his nobilities, that a self-cultivated stoicism ever 
fortified with sarcasm, none the less securely because it seemed 
voluntary, covered a warmth of feeling. "His great heart, him 
a hermit made." A breadth of heart not easily measured, found 
only in the highest type of sentimentalists, the type which does 
not perpetually discriminate in favor of mankind. Emerson has 
much of this sentiment and touches it when he sings of Nature 
as "the incarnation of a thought," when he generously visualizes 
Thoreau, "standing at the Walden shore invoking the vision 
of a thought as it drifts heavenward into an incarnation of Na- 
ture." There is a Godlike patience in Nature,— in her mists, her 
trees, her mountains— as if she had a more abiding faith and a 
clearer vision than man of the resurrection and immortality! 

There comes to memory an old yellow-papered composition 
of school-boy days whose peroration closed with "Poor Thoreau; 
he communed with nature for forty odd years, and then died." 
"The forty odd years,"— we'll still grant that part, but he is over 
a hundred now, and maybe, Mr. Lowell, he is more lovable, 
kindlier, and more radiant with human sympathy to-day, than, 
perchance, you were fifty years ago. It may be that he is a far 
stronger, a far greater, an incalculably greater force in the moral 
and spiritual fibre of his fellow-countrymen throughout the 
world to-day than you dreamed of fifty years ago. You, James 
Russell Lowells! You, Robert Louis Stevensons! You, Mark Van 
Dorens! with your literary perception, your power of illumi- 
nation, your brilliancy of expression, yea, and with your love of 
sincerity, you know your Thoreau, but not my Thoreau— that 
reassuring and true friend, who stood by me one "low" day, 
when the sun had gone down, long, long before sunset. You may 
know something of the affection that heart yearned for but knew 
it a duty not to grasp; you may know something of the great 
human passions which stirred that soul— too deep for animate 
expression— you may know all of this, all there is to know about 
Thoreau, but you know him not, unless you love him! 

And if there shall be a program for our music let it follow 
his thought on an autumn day of Indian summer at Walden— 



154 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

a shadow of a thought at first, colored by the mist and haze over 
the pond: 

Low anchored cloud, 

Fountain head and 

Source of rivers. . . . 

Dew cloth, dream drapery — 

Drifting meadow of the air. . . . 

but this is momentary; the beauty of the day moves him to a 
certain restlessness— to aspirations more specific— an eagerness for 
outward action, but through it all he is conscious that it is not 
in keeping with the mood for this "Day." As the mists rise, there 
comes a clearer thought more traditional than the first, a medi- 
tation more calm. As he stands on the side of the pleasant hill of 
pines and hickories in front of his cabin, he is still disturbed by 
a restlessness and goes down the white-pebbled and sandy eastern 
shore, but it seems not to lead him where the thought suggests— 
he climbs the path along the "bolder northern" and "western 
shore, with deep bays indented," and now along the railroad 
track, "where the ^Eolian harp plays." But his eagerness throws 
him into the lithe, springy stride of the specie hunter— the natur- 
alist—he is still aware of a restlessness; with these faster steps 
his rhythm is of shorter span— it is still not the tempo 
of Nature, it does not bear the mood that the genius of 
the day calls for, it is too specific, its nature is too external, 
the introspection too buoyant, and he knows now that he must 
let Nature flow through him and slowly; he releases his more 
personal desires to her broader rhythm, conscious that this 
blends more and more with the harmony of her solitude; it tells 
him that his search for freedom on that day, at least, lies in his 
submission to her, for Nature is as relentless as she is benignant. 
He remains in this mood and while outwardly still, he seems to 
move with the slow, almost monotonous swaying beat of this 
autumnal day. He is more contented with a "homely burden" 
and is more assured of "the broad margin to his life; he sits in 
his sunny doorway . . . rapt in revery . . . amidst goldenrod, 
sandcherry, and sumach ... in undisturbed solitude." At times 
the more definite personal strivings for the ideal freedom, the 
former more active speculations come over him, as if he would 
trace a certain intensity even in his submission. "He grew in 



Epilogue 155 

those seasons like corn in the night and they were better than 
any works of the hands. They were not time subtracted from his 
life but so much over and above the usual allowance." "He 
realized what the Orientals meant by contemplation and for- 
saking of works." "The day advanced as if to light some work of 
his— it was morning and lo! now it is evening and nothing mem- 
orable is accomplished . . ." "The evening train has gone by," 
and "all the restless world with it. The fishes in the pond no 
longer feel its rumbling and he is more alone than ever. . . ." 
His meditations are interrupted only by the faint sound of the 
Concord bell— 'tis prayer-meeting night in the village— "a melody 
as it were, imported into the wilderness. . . ." "At a distance over 
the woods the sound acquires a certain vibratory hum as if the 
pine needles in the horizon were the strings of a harp which it 
swept. ... A vibration of the universal lyre. . . . Just as the 
intervening atmosphere makes a distant ridge of earth interest- 
ing to the eyes by the azure tint it imparts." . . . Part of the echo 
may be "the voice of the wood; the same trivial words and notes 
sung by the wood nymph." It is darker, the poet's flute is heard 
out over the pond and Walden hears the swan song of that 
"Day" and faintly echoes. ... Is it a transcendental tune of Con- 
cord? 'Tis an evening when the "whole body is one sense," . . . 
and before ending his day he looks out over the clear, crystalline 
water of the pond and catches a glimpse of the shadow-thought 
he saw in the morning's mist and haze— he knows that by his 
final submission, he possesses the "Freedom of the Night." He 
goes up the "pleasant hillside of pines, hickories," and moon- 
light to his cabin, "with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of 
herself." 



VI Epilogue 



The futility of attempting to trace the 
source or primal impulse of an art-inspiration may be admitted 
without granting that human qualities or attributes which go 



156 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

with personality cannot be suggested, and that artistic intuitions 
which parallel them cannot be reflected in music. Actually ac- 
complishing the latter is a problem, more or less arbitrary to 
an open mind, more or less impossible to a prejudiced mind. 

That which the composer intends to represent as "high 
vitality" sounds like something quite different to different lis- 
teners. That which I like to think suggests Thoreau's submission 
to nature may, to another, seem something like Hawthorne's 
"conception of the relentlessness of an evil conscience"— and to 
the rest of our friends, but a series of unpleasant sounds. How 
far can the composer be held accountable? Beyond a certain 
point the responsibility is more or less undeterminable. The out- 
side characteristics— that is, the points furthest away from the 
mergings— are obvious to mostly anyone. A child knows a "strain 
of joy," from one of sorrow. Those a little older know the digni- 
fied from the frivolous— the Spring Song from the season in 
which the "melancholy days have come" (though is there not a 
glorious hope in autumn!). But where is the definite expression 
of late-spring against early-summer, of happiness against opti- 
mism? A painter paints a sunset— can he paint the setting sun? 

In some century to come, when the school children will 
whistle popular tunes in quarter-tones— when the diatonic scale 
will be as obsolete as the pentatonic is now— perhaps then these 
borderland experiences may be both easily expressed and readily 
recognized. But maybe music was not intended to satisfy the 
curious definiteness of man. Maybe it is better to hope that 
music may always be a transcendental language in the most 
extravagant sense. Possibly the power of literally distinguishing 
these "shades of abstraction"— these attributes paralleled by 
"artistic intuitions" (call them what you will)— is ever to be 
denied man for the same reason that the beginning and end 
of a circle are to be denied. 



There may be an analogy— and on first sight it seems that 
there must be— between both the state and power of artistic per- 
ceptions and the law of perpetual change, that ever-flowing 
stream partly biological, partly cosmic, ever going on in our- 



Epilogue 157 

selves, in nature, in all life. This may account for the difficulty of 
identifying desired qualities with the perceptions of them in 
expression. Many things are constantly coming into being, while 
others are constantly going out— one part of the same thing is 
coming in while another part is going out of existence. Perhaps 
this is why the above conformity in art (a conformity which we 
seem naturally to look for) appears at times so unrealizable, 
if not impossible. It will be assumed, to make this theory clearer, 
that the "flow" or "change" does not go on in the art-product 
itself. As a matter of fact it probably does, to a certain extent— 
a picture, or a song, may gain or lose in value beyond what the 
painter or composer knew, by the progress and higher develop- 
ment in all art. Keats may be only partially true when he says 
that "A work of beauty is a joy forever"— a thing that is beautiful 
to me, is a joy to me, as long as it remains beautiful to me— 
and if it remains so as long as I live, it is so forever, that is, 
forever to me. If he had put it this way, he would have been tire- 
some, inartistic, but perhaps truer. So we will assume here that 
this change only goes on in man and nature; and that this eter- 
nal process in mankind is paralleled in some way during each 
temporary, personal life. 

A young man, two generations ago, found an identity with 
his ideals, in Rossini; when an older man in Wagner. A young 
man, one generation ago, found his in Wagner, but when older 
in Cesar Franck or Brahms. Some may say that this change may 
not be general, universal, or natural, and that it may be due to 
a certain kind of education, or to a certain inherited or con- 
tracted prejudice. We cannot deny or affirm this, absolutely, nor 
will we try to even qualitatively— except to say that it will be 
generally admitted that Rossini, to-day, does not appeal to this 
generation, as he did to that of our fathers. As far as prejudice 
or undue influence is concerned, and as an illustration in point, 
the following may be cited to show that training may have but 
little effect in this connection, at least not as much as usually 
supposed— for we believe this experience to be, to a certain ex- 
tent, normal, or at least, not uncommon. A man remembers, 
when he was a boy of about fifteen years, hearing his music- 
teacher (and father) who had just returned from a performance 
of Siegfried say with a look of anxious surprise that "somehow 



158 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

or other he felt ashamed of enjoying the music as he did," for 
beneath it all he was conscious of an undercurrent of "make- 
believe"— the bravery was make-believe, the love was make-be- 
lieve, the passion, the virtue, all make-believe, as was the dragon 
—P. T. Barnum would have been brave enough to have gone 
out and captured a live one! But, that same boy at twenty-five 
was listening to Wagner with enthusiasm, his reality was real 
enough to inspire a devotion. The "Preis-Lied," for instance, 
stirred him deeply. But when he became middle-aged— and long 
before the Hohenzollern hog-marched into Belgium— this music 
had become cloying, the melodies threadbare— a sense of some- 
thing commonplace— yes— of make-believe came. These feelings 
were fought against for association's sake, and because of grati- 
tude for bygone pleasures— but the former beauty and nobility 
were not there, and in their place stood irritating intervals of 
descending fourths and fifths. Those once transcendent pro- 
gressions, luxuriant suggestions of Debussy chords of the 9th, 
11th, etc., were becoming slimy. An unearned exultation— a 
sentimentality deadening something within hides around in 
the music. Wagner seems less and less to measure up to the 
substance and reality of Cesar Franck, Brahms, d'Indy, or even 
Elgar (with all his tiresomeness), the wholesomeness, manliness, 
humility, and deep spiritual, possibly religious feeling of these 
men seem missing and not made up for by his (Wagner's) man- 
ner and eloquence, even if greater than theirs (which is very 
doubtful). 

From the above we would try to prove that as this stream 
of change flows towards the eventual ocean of mankind's perfec- 
tion, the art-works in which we identify our higher ideals come 
by this process to be identified with the lower ideals of those 
who embark after us when the stream has grown in depth. If 
we stop with the above experience, our theory of the effect of 
man's changing nature, as thus explaining artistic progress, is 
perhaps sustained. Thus would we show that the perpetual flow 
of the life stream is affected by and affects each individual river- 
bed of the universal watersheds. Thus would we prove that the 
Wagner period was normal, because we intuitively recognized 
whatever identity we were looking for at a certain period in our 
life, and the fact that it was so made the Franck period possible 



Epilogue 159 

and then normal at a later period in our life. Thus would we 
assume that this is as it should be, and that it is not Wagner's 
content or substance or his lack of virtue, that something in us 
has made us flow past him and not he past us. But something 
blocks our theory! Something makes our hypotheses seem purely 
speculative if not useless. It is men like Bach and Beethoven. 

Is it not a matter nowadays of common impression or gen- 
eral opinion (for the law of averages plays strongly in any theory 
relating to human attributes) that the world's attitude towards 
the substance and quality and spirit of these two men, or other 
men of like character, if there be such, has not been affected by 
the flowing stream that has changed us? But if by the measure 
of this public opinion, as well as it can be measured, Bach and 
Beethoven are being flowed past— not as fast perhaps as Wagner 
is, but if they are being passed at all from this deeper view- 
point, then this "change" theory holds. 

Here we shall have to assume, for we haven't proved it, 
that artistic intuitions can sense in music a weakening of moral 
strength and vitality, and that it is sensed in relation to Wagner 
and not sensed in relation to Bach and Beethoven. If, in this 
common opinion, there is a particle of change toward the latter's 
art, our theory stands— mind you, this admits a change in the 
manner, form, external expression, etc., but not in substance. 
If there is no change here towards the substance of these two 
men, our theory not only falls but its failure superimposes or 
allows us to presume a fundamental duality in music, and in 
all art for that matter. 

Does the progress of intrinsic beauty or truth (we assume 
there is such a thing) have its exposures as well as its discoveries? 
Does the non-acceptance of the foregoing theory mean that 
Wagner's substance and reality are lower and his manner higher; 
that his beauty was not intrinsic; that he was more interested in 
the repose of pride than in the truth of humility? It appears 
that he chose the representative instead of the spirit itself, — 
that he chose consciously or unconsciously, it matters not,— the 
lower set of values in this dualism. These are severe accusations 
to bring— especially when a man is a little down as Wagner is 
to-day. But these convictions were present some time before he 
was banished from the Metropolitan. 



160 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

Wagner seems to take Hugo's place in Faguet's criticism of 
de Vigny that, "The staging to him (Hugo) was the important 
thing— not the conception— that in de Vigny, the artist was in- 
ferior to the poet"; finally that Hugo and so Wagner have a 
certain pauvrete de fond. Thus would we ungenerously make 
Wagner prove our sum! But it is a sum that won't prove! The 
theory at its best does little more than suggest something, which 
if it is true at all, is a platitude, viz.: that progressive growth in 
all life makes it more and more possible for men to separate, 
in an art-work, moral weakness from artistic strength. 



Human attributes are definite enough when it comes to 
their description, but the expression of them, or the paralleling 
of them in an art-process, has to be, as said above, more or less 
arbitrary, but we believe that their expression can be less vague 
if the basic distinction of this art-dualism is kept in mind. It is 
morally certain that the higher part is founded, as Sturt suggests, 
on something that has to do with those kinds of unselfish human 
interests which we call knowledge and morality— knowledge, not 
in the sense of erudition, but as a kind of creation or creative 
truth. This allows us to assume that the higher and more im- 
portant value of this dualism is composed of what may be called 
reality, quality, spirit, or substance against the lower value of 
form, quantity, or manner. Of these terms "substance" seems 
to us the most appropriate, cogent, and comprehensive for the 
higher and "manner" for the under-value. Substance in a human- 
art-quality suggests the body of a conviction which has its birth 
in the spiritual consciousness, whose youth is nourished in the 
moral consciousness, and whose maturity as a result of all this 
growth is then represented in a mental image. This is appreci- 
ated by the intuition, and somehow translated into expression 
by "manner"— a process always less important than it seems, or 
as suggested by the foregoing (in fact we apologize for this at- 
tempted definition). So it seems that "substance" is too indefinite 
to analyze, in more specific terms. It is practically indescribable. 
Intuitions (artistic or not?) will sense it— process, unknown. 
Perhaps it is an unexplained consciousness of being nearer God, 



Epilogue 161 

or being nearer the devil— of approaching truth or approaching 
unreality— a silent something felt in the truth-of-nature in Tur- 
ner against the truth-of-art in Botticelli, or in the fine thinking 
of Ruskin against the fine soundings of Kipling, or in the wide- 
expanse of Titian against the narrow-expanse of Carpaccio, or 
in some such distinction that Pope sees between what he calls 
Homer's "invention" and Virgil's "judgment"— apparently an 
inspired imagination against an artistic care, a sense of the differ- 
ence, perhaps, between Dr. Bushnell's Knowing God and know- 
ing about God. A more vivid explanation or illustration may be 
found in the difference between Emerson and Poe. The former 
seems to be almost wholly "substance" and the latter "manner." 
The measure in artistic satisfaction of Poe's manner is equal to 
the measure of spiritual satisfaction in Emerson's "substance." 
The total value of each man is high, but Emerson's is higher 
than Poe's because "substance" is higher than "manner"— be- 
cause "substance" leans towards optimism, and "manner" pessi- 
mism. We do not know that all this is so, but we feel, or rather 
know by intuition that it is so, in the same way we know intui- 
tively that right is higher than wrong, though we can't always 
tell why a thing is right or wrong, or what is always the differ- 
ence or the margin between right and wrong. 

Beauty, in its common conception, has nothing to do with 
it (substance), unless it be granted that its outward aspect, or 
the expression between sensuous beauty and spiritual beauty 
can be always and distinctly known, which it cannot, as the art 
of music is still in its infancy. On reading this over, it seems 
only decent that some kind of an apology be made for the be- 
ginning of the preceding sentence. It cannot justly be said that 
anything that has to do with art has nothing to do with beauty 
in any degree,— that is, whether beauty is there or not, it has 
something to do with it. A casual idea of it, a kind of a first 
necessary-physical impression, was what we had in mind. Proba- 
bly nobody knows what actual beauty is— except those serious 
writers of humorous essays in art magazines, who accurately, but 
kindly, with club in hand, demonstrate for all time and men 
that beauty is a quadratic monomial; that it is absolute; that it 
is relative; that it is not relative, that it is not. . . . The word 
"beauty" is as easy to use as the word "degenerate." Both come 



162 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

in handy when one does or does not agree with you. For our 
part, something that Roussel-Despierres says comes nearer to 
what we like to think beauty is . . . "an infinite source of good 
. . . the love of the beautiful ... a constant anxiety for moral 
beauty." Even here we go around in a circle— a thing apparently 
inevitable, if one tries to reduce art to philosophy. But person- 
ally, we prefer to go around in a circle than around in a paral- 
lelepipedon, for it seems cleaner and perhaps freer from 
mathematics— or for the same reason we prefer Whittier to 
Baudelaire— a poet to a genius, or a healthy to a rotten apple— 
probably not so much because it is more nutritious, but because 
we like its taste better; we like the beautiful and don't like the 
ugly; therefore, what we like is beautiful, and what we don't 
like is ugly— and hence we are glad the beautiful is not ugly, for 
if it were we would like something we don't like. So having un- 
settled what beauty is, let us go on. 

At any rate, we are going to be arbitrary enough to claim, 
with no definite qualification, that substance can be expressed 
in music, and that it is the only valuable thing in it, and more- 
over that in two separate pieces of music in which the notes 
are almost identical, one can be of "substance" with little 
"manner," and the other can be of "manner" with little "sub- 
stance." Substance has something to do with character. Manner 
has nothing to do with it. The "substance" of a tune comes 
from somewhere near the soul, and the "manner" comes from— 
God knows where. 



The lack of interest to preserve, or ability to perceive the 
fundamental divisions of this duality accounts to a large extent, 
we believe, for some or many various phenomena (pleasant or 
unpleasant according to the personal attitude) of modern art, 
and all art. It is evidenced in many ways— the sculptors' over- 
insistence on the "mold," the outer rather than the inner sub- 
ject or content of his statue— over-enthusiasm for local color 
—over-interest in the multiplicity of techniques, in the idiomatic, 
in the effect as shown, by the appreciation of an audience rather 
than in the effect on the ideals of the inner conscience of the 



Epilogue 163 

artist or the composer. This lack of perceiving is too often shown 
by an over-interest in the material value of the effect. The pose 
of self-absorption, which some men, in the advertising business 
(and incidentally in the recital and composing business) put 
into their photographs or the portraits of themselves, while all 
dolled up in their purple-dressing-gowns, in their twofold 
wealth of golden hair, in their cissy-like postures over the piano 
keys— this pose of "manner" sometimes sounds out so loud that 
the more their music is played, the less it is heard. For does not 
Emerson tell them this when he says "What you are talks so 
loud, that I cannot hear what you say"? The unescapable impres- 
sion that one sometimes gets by a glance at these public-inflicted 
trade-marks, and without having heard or seen any of their music, 
is that the one great underlying desire of these appearing-artists, 
is to impress, perhaps startle and shock their audiences and at 
any cost. This may have some such effect upon some of the 
lady-part (male or female) of their listeners but possibly the 
members of the men-part, who as boys liked hockey better than 
birthday-parties, may feel like shocking a few of these picture- 
sitters with something stronger than their own forzandos. 

The insistence upon manner in its relation to local color is 
wider than a self-strain for effect. If local color is a natural part, 
that is, a part of substance, the art-effort cannot help but show 
its color— and it will be a true color, no matter how colored; if 
it is a part, even a natural part of "manner," either the color 
part is bound eventually to drive out the local part or the local 
drive out all color. Here a process of cancellation or destruction 
is going on— a kind of "compromise" which destroys by deadlock; 
a compromise purchasing a selfish pleasure— a decadence in 
which art becomes first dull, then dark, then dead, though 
throughout this process it is outwardly very much alive,— espe- 
cially after it is dead. The same tendency may even be noticed 
if there is over-insistence upon the national in art. Substance 
tends to create affection; manner prejudice. The latter tends to 
efface the distinction between the love of both a country's virtue 
and vices, and the love of only the virtue. A true love of country 
is likely to be so big that it will embrace the virtue one sees in 
other countries and, in the same breath, so to speak. A composer 
born in America, but who has not been interested in the "cause 



164 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

of the Freedmen," may be so interested in "negro melodies," that 
he writes a symphony over them. He is conscious (perhaps only 
subconscious) that he wishes it to be "American music." He tries 
to forget that the paternal negro came from Africa. Is his music 
American or African? That is the great question which keeps 
him awake! But the sadness of it is, that if he had been born in 
Africa, his music might have been just as American, for there is 
good authority that an African soul under an X-ray looks iden- 
tically like an American soul. There is a futility in selecting a 
certain type to represent a "whole," unless the interest in the 
spirit of the type coincides with that of the whole. In other 
words, if this composer isn't as deeply interested in the "cause" 
as Wendell Phillips was, when he fought his way through that 
anti-abolitionist crowd at Faneuil Hall, his music is liable to be 
less American than he wishes. If a middle-aged man, upon pick- 
ing up the Scottish Chiefs, finds that his boyhood enthusiasm 
for the prowess and noble deeds and character of Sir Wm. Wal- 
lace and of Bruce is still present, let him put, or try to put that 
glory into an overture, let him fill it chuck-full of Scotch tunes, 
if he will. But after all is said and sung he will find that his 
music is American to the core (assuming that he is an American 
and wishes his music to be). It will be as national in character as 
the heart of that Grand Army Grandfather, who read those 
Cragmore Tales of a summer evening, when that boy had 
brought the cows home without witching. Perhaps the memories 
of the old soldier, to which this man still holds tenderly, may be 
turned into a "strain" or a "sonata," and though the music does 
not contain, or even suggest any of the old war-songs, it will 
be as sincerely American as the subject, provided his (the com- 
poser's) interest, spirit, and character sympathize with, or in- 
tuitively coincide with that of the subject. 

Again, if a man finds that the cadences of an Apache war- 
dance come nearest to his soul, provided he has taken pains to 
know enough other cadences— for eclecticism is part of his duty- 
sorting potatoes means a better crop next year— let him assimilate 
whatever he finds highest of the Indian ideal, so that he can use 
it with the cadences, fervently, transcendentally, inevitably, furi- 
ously, in his symphonies, in his operas, in his whistlings on the 
way to work, so that he can paint his house with them— make 



Epilogue 165 

them a part of his prayer-book— this is all possible and necessary, 
if he is confident that they have a part in his spiritual con- 
sciousness. With this assurance his music will have everything it 
should of sincerity, nobility, strength, and beauty, no matter how 
it sounds; and if, with this, he is true to none but the highest of 
American ideals (that is, the ideals only that coincide with his 
spiritual consciousness) his music will be true to itself and in- 
cidentally American, and it will be so even after it is proved 
that all our Indians came from Asia. 

The man "born down to Babbitt's Corners," may find a deep 
appeal in the simple but acute "Gospel Hymns of the New Eng- 
land camp meetin'," of a generation or so ago. He finds in them 
—some of them— a vigor, a depth of feeling, a natural-soil rhythm, 
a sincerity, emphatic but inartistic, which, in spite of a vociferous 
sentimentality, carries him nearer the "Christ of the people" than 
does the Te Deum of the greatest cathedral. These tunes have, 
for him, a truer ring than many of those groove-made, even- 
measured, monotonous, non-rhythmed, indoor-smelling, priest- 
taught, academic, English or neo-English hymns (and anthems) 
—well-written, well-harmonized things, well-voice-led, well-coun- 
terpointed, well corrected, and well O.K.'d, by well corrected 
Mus. Bac. R.F.O.G.'s— personified sounds, correct and inevitable 
to sight and hearing— in a word, those proper forms of stained- 
glass beauty, which our over-drilled mechanisms— boy-choirs are 
limited to. But, if the Yankee can reflect the fervency with which 
"his gospels" were sung— the fervency of "Aunt Sarah," who 
scrubbed her life away, for her brother's ten orphans, the fer- 
vency with which this woman, after a fourteen-hour work day 
on the farm, would hitch up and drive five miles, through the 
mud and rain to "prayer meetin' "—her one articulate outlet for 
the fullness of her unselfish soul— if he can reflect the fervency 
of such a spirit, he may find there a local color that will do all 
the world good. If his music can but catch that "spirit" by being 
a part with itself, it will come somewhere near his ideal— and it 
will be American, too, perhaps nearer so than that of the devotee 
of Indian or negro melody. In other words, if local color, na- 
tional color, any color, is a true pigment of the universal color, 
it is a divine quality, it is a part of substance in art— not of 
manner. 



166 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

The preceding illustrations are but attempts to show that 
whatever excellence an artist sees in life, a community, in a 
people, or in any valuable object or experience, if sincerely and 
intuitively reflected in his work, his work, and so he himself, is, 
in a way, a reflected part of that excellence. Whether he be ac- 
cepted or rejected, whether his music is always played, or never 
played— all this has nothing to do with it— it is true or false by 
his own measure. If we may be permitted to leave out two words, 
and add a few more, a sentence of Hegel appears to sum up this 
idea, "The universal need for expression in art lies in man's 
rational impulse to exalt the inner . . . world (i. e., the highest 
ideals he sees in the inner life of others) together with what he 
finds in his own life— into a spiritual consciousness for himself." 
The artist does feel or does not feel that a sympathy has been 
approved by an artistic intuition and so reflected in his work. 
Whether he feels this sympathy is true or not in the final analy- 
sis, is a thing probably that no one but he (the artist) knows— 
but the truer he feels it, the more substance it has, or as Sturt 
puts it, "his work is art, so long as he feels in doing it as true 
artists feel, and so long as his object is akin to the objects that 
true artists admire." 

Dr. Griggs in an Essay on Debussy, 1 asks if this composer's 
content is worthy the manner. Perhaps so, perhaps not— Debussy 
himself, doubtless, could not give a positive answer. He would 
better know how true his feeling and sympathy was, and anyone 
else's personal opinion can be of but little help here. 

We might offer the suggestion that Debussy's content would 
have been worthier his manner, if he had hoed corn or sold news- 
papers for a living, for in this way he might have gained a deeper 
vitality and truer theme to sing at night and of a Sunday. Or we 
might say that what substance there is, is "too coherent"— it is 
too clearly expressed in the first thirty seconds. There you have 
the "whole fragment," a translucent syllogism, but then the 
reality, the spirit, the substance stops and the "form," the "per- 
fume," the "manner," shimmer right along, as the soapsuds glis- 
ten after one has finished washing. Or we might say that his 
substance would have been worthier, if his adoration or contem- 
plation of Nature, which is often a part of it, and which rises to 

i John C. Griggs, "Debussy," Yale Review, 1914. 



Epilogue 167 

great heights, as is felt for example, in La Mer, had been more 
the quality of Thoreau's. Debussy's attitude toward Nature 
seems to have a kind of sensual sensuousness underlying it, while 
Thoreau's is a kind of spiritual sensuousness. It is rare to find 
a farmer or peasant whose enthusiasm for the beauty in Nature 
finds outward expression to compare with that of the city-man 
who comes out for a Sunday in the country, but Thoreau is 
that rare country-man and Debussy the city-man with his week- 
end flights into country-aesthetics. We would be inclined to say 
that Thoreau leaned towards substance and Debussy towards 
manner. 



There comes from Concord, an offer to every mind— the 
choice between repose and truth, and God makes the offer. 
"Take which you please . . . between these, as a pendulum, man 
oscillates. He in whom the love of repose predominates will 
accept the first creed, the first philosophy, the first political party 
he meets," most likely his father's. He gets rest, commodity, and 
reputation. Here is another aspect of art-duality, but it is more 
drastic than ours, as it would eliminate one part or the other. A 
man may aim as high as Beethoven or as high as Richard Strauss. 
In the former case the shot may go far below the mark; in truth, 
it has not been reached since that "thunder storm of 1828" and 
there is little chance that it will be reached by anyone living 
to-day, but that matters not, the shot will never rebound and 
destroy the marksman. But, in the latter case, the shot may often 
hit the mark, but as often rebound and harden, if not destroy, 
the shooter's heart— even his soul. What matters it, men say, he 
will then find rest, commodity, and reputation— what matters it 
—if he find there but few perfect truths— what matters (men 
say)— he will find there perfect media, those perfect instruments 
of getting in the way of perfect truths. 

This choice tells why Beethoven is always modern and 
Strauss always mediaeval— try as he may to cover it up in new 
bottles. He has chosen to capitalize a "talent"— he has chosen the 
complexity of media, the shining hardness of externals, repose, 
against the inner, invisible activity of truth. He has chosen the 



168 Ives: Essays be j ore a Sonata 

first creed, the easy creed, the philosophy of his fathers, among 
whom he found a half-idiot-genius (Nietzsche). His choice natur- 
ally leads him to glorify and to magnify all kind of dull things— 
a stretched-out geigermusik— which in turn naturally leads him 
to "windmills" and "human heads on silver platters." Magnifying 
the dull into the colossal, produces a kind of "comfort"— the 
comfort of a woman who takes more pleasure in the fit of fash- 
ionable clothes than in a healthy body— the kind of comfort that 
has brought so many "adventures of baby-carriages at county 
fairs"— "the sensation of Teddy bears, smoking their first cig- 
arette"— on the program of symphony orchestras of one hundred 
performers,— the lure of the media— the means— not the end— but 
the finish,— thus the failure to perceive that thoughts and mem- 
ories of childhood are too tender, and some of them too sacred 
to be worn lightly on the sleeve. Life is too short for these one 
hundred men, to say nothing of the composer and the "dress- 
circle," to spend an afternoon in this way. They are but like the 
rest of us, and have only the expectancy of the mortality-table 
to survive— perhaps only this "piece." We cannot but feel that 
a too great desire for "repose" accounts for such phenomena. A 
MS. score is brought to a concertmaster— he may be a violinist- 
he is kindly disposed, he looks it over, and casually fastens on a 
passage "that's bad for the fiddles, it doesn't hang just right, 
write it like this, they will play it better." But that one phrase is 
the germ of the whole thing. "Never mind, it will fit the hand 
better this way— it will sound better." My God! what has sound 
got to do with music! The waiter brings the only fresh egg he 
has, but the man at breakfast sends it back because it doesn't fit 
his eggcup. Why can't music go out in the same way it comes in 
to a man, without having to crawl over a fence of sounds, tho- 
raxes, catguts, wire, wood, and brass? Consecutive-fifths are as 
harmless as blue laws compared with the relentless tyranny of 
the "media." The instrument!— there is the perennial difficulty- 
there is music's limitations. Why must the scarecrow of the key- 
board—the tyrant in terms of the mechanism (be it Caruso or a 
Jew's-harp) stare into every measure? Is it the composer's fault 
that man has only ten fingers? Why can't a musical thought be 
presented as it is born— perchance "a bastard of the slums," or 
a "daughter of a bishop"— and if it happens to go better later on 



Epilogue 169 

a bass-drum (than upon a harp) get a good bass-drummer. 1 That 
music must be heard, is not essential— what it sounds like may 
not be what it is. Perhaps the day is coming when music-believers 
will learn "that silence is a solvent . . . that gives us leave to be 
universal" rather than personal. 

Some fiddler was once honest or brave enough, or perhaps 
ignorant enough, to say that Beethoven didn't know how to 
write for the violin,— that, maybe, is one of the many reasons 
Beethoven is not a Vieuxtemps. Another man says Beethoven's 
piano sonatas are not pianistic— with a little effort, perhaps, 
Beethoven could have become a Thalberg. His symphonies are 
perfect-truths and perfect for the orchestra of 1820— but Mahler 
could have made them— possibly did make them— we will say, 
"more perfect," as far as their media clothes are concerned, and 
Beethoven is to-day big enough to rather like it. He is probably 
in the same amiable state of mind that the Jesuit priest said, 
"God was in," when He looked down on the camp ground and 
saw the priest sleeping with a Congregational Chaplain. Or in 
the same state of mind you'll be in when you look down and see 
the sexton keeping your tombstone up to date. The truth of 
Joachim offsets the repose of Paganini and Kubelik. The repose 
and reputation of a successful pianist— (whatever that means) 
who plays Chopin so cleverly that he covers up a sensuality, and 
in such a way that the purest-minded see nothing but sensuous 
beauty in it, which, by the way, doesn't disturb him as much as 
the size of his income-tax— the repose and fame of this man is 
offset by the truth and obscurity of the village organist who plays 
Lowell Mason and Bach with such affection that he would give 
his life rather than lose them. The truth and courage of this 
organist, who risks his job, to fight the prejudice of the con- 
gregation, offset the repose and large salary of a more celebrated 
choirmaster, who holds his job by lowering his ideals, who is 
willing to let the organ smirk under an insipid, easy-sounding 
barcarolle for the offertory, who is willing to please the sentimen- 
tal ears of the music committee (and its wives)— who is more 

l The first movement (Emerson) of the music, which is the cause of 
all these words, was first thought of (we believe) in terms of a large orches- 
tra, the second (Hawthorne) in terms of a piano or a dozen pianos, the 
third (Allcotts) — of an organ (or piano with voice or violin), and the 
last (Thoreau), in terms of strings, colored possibly with a flute or horn. 



170 Ives: Essays be f ore a Sonata 

willing to observe these forms of politeness than to stand up for 
a stronger and deeper music of simple devotion, and for a service 
of a spiritual unity, the kind of thing that Mr. Bossitt, who owns 
the biggest country place, the biggest bank, and the biggest 
"House of God" in town (for is it not the divine handiwork of 
his own— pocketbook)— the kind of music that this man, his wife, 
and his party (of property right in pews) can't stand because it 
isn't "pretty." 

The doctrine of this "choice" may be extended to the 
distinction between literal-enthusiasm and natural-enthusiasm 
(right or wrong notes, good 01 bad tones against good or l>. id 
interpretation, good or bad sentiment) or between observation 
and introspection, or to the distinction between remembering 
and dreaming. Strauss remembers, Beethoven dreams. We see 
this distinction also in Goethe's confusion of the moral with the 
intellectual. There is no such confusion in Beethoven— to him 
they are one. It is told, and the stoiv is so well known that we 
hesitate to repeat it here, that both these men were standing in 
the street one day when the Emperor drove by— Goethe, like the 
rest of the crowd, bowed and uncovered— but Beethoven stood 
bolt upright, and refused even to salute, saying: "Let him bow 
to us, for ours is a nobler empire." Goethe's mind knew this was 
true, but his moral courage was not instinctive. 

This remembering faculty of "repose," throws the mind in 
unguarded moments quite naturally towards "manner" and thus 
to the many things the media can do. It brings on an itching to 
over-use them— to be original (if anyone will tell what that is) 
with nothing but numbers to be original with. We are told that 
a conductor (of the orchestra) has written a symphony requiring 
an orchestra of one hundred and fifty men. If his w r ork perhaps 
had one hundred and fifty valuable ideas, the one hundred and 
fifty men might be justifiable— but as it probably contains not 
more than a dozen, the composer may be unconsciously ashamed 
of them, and glad to cover them up under a hundred and fifty 
men. A man may become famous because he is able to eat nine- 
teen dinners a day, but posterity will decorate his stomach, not 
his brain. 

Manner breeds a cussed-cleverness— only to be clever— a 
satellite of super-industrialism, and perhaps to be witty in the 



Epilogue 171 

bargain, not the wit in mother-wit, but a kind of indoor, arti- 
ficial, mental arrangement of things quickly put together and 
which have been learned and studied— it is of the material and 
stays there, while humor is of the emotional and of the approach- 
ing spiritual. Even Dukas, and perhaps other Gauls, in their 
critical heart of hearts, may admit that "wit" in music, is as im- 
possible as "wit" at a funeral. The wit is evidence of its lack. 
Mark Twain could be humorous at the death of his dearest 
friend, but in such a way as to put a blessing into the heart of 
the bereaved. Humor in music has the same possibilities. But 
its quantity has a serious effect on its quality, "inverse ratio" is a 
good formula to adopt here. Comedy has its part, but wit never. 
Strauss is at his best in these lower rooms, but his comedy re- 
minds us more of the physical fun of Lever rather than "comedy 
in the Meredithian sense" as Mason suggests. Meredith is a little 
too deep or too subtle for Strauss— unless it be granted that cyn- 
icism is more a part of comedy than a part of refined-insult. Let 
us also remember that Mr. Disston, not Mr. Strauss, put the 
funny notes in the bassoon. A symphony written only to amuse 
and entertain is likely to amuse only the writer— and him not 
long after the check is cashed. 

"Genius is always ascetic and piety and love," thus Emerson 
reinforces "God's offer of this choice" by a transcendental defi- 
nition. The moment a famous violinist refused "to appear" until 
he had received his check,— at that moment, precisely (assuming 
for argument's sake, that this was the first time that materialism 
had the ascendency in this man's soul) at that moment he be- 
came but a man of "talent"— incidentally, a small man and a 
small violinist, regardless of how perfectly he played, regardless 
to what heights of emotion he stirred his audience, regardless of 
the sublimity of his artistic and financial success. 

d'Annunzio, it is told, becoming somewhat discouraged at 
the result of some of his Fiume adventures said: "We are the 
only Idealists left." This remark may have been made in a 
moment of careless impulse, but if it is taken at its face value, 
the moment it was made that moment his idealism started down- 
hill. A grasp at monopoly indicates that a sudden shift has taken 
place from the heights where genius may be found, to the lower 
plains of talent. The mind of a true idealist is great enough to 



172 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

know that a monopoly of idealism or of wheat is a thing nature 
does not support. 

A newspaper music column prints an incident (so how can 
we assume that it is not true?) of an American violinist who 
called on Max Reger, to tell him how much he (the American) 
appreciated his music. Reger gives him a hopeless look and cries: 
"What! a musician and not speak German!" At that moment, by 
the clock, regardless of how great a genius he may have been 
before that sentence was uttered— at that moment he became 
but a man of "talent." "For the man of talent affects to call his 
transgressions of the laws of sense trivial and to count them 
nothing considered with his devotion to his art." His art never 
taught him prejudice or to wear only one eye. "His art is less for 
every deduction from his holiness and less for every defect of 
common sense." And this common sense has a great deal to do 
with this distinguishing difference of Emerson's between genius 
and talent, repose and truth, and between all evidences of sub- 
stance and manner in art. Manner breeds partialists. "Is America 
a musical nation?"— it the man who is ever asking this question 
would sit down and think something over he might find less 
interest in asking it— he might possiblv remember that all nations 
are more musical than any nation, especially the nation that pays 
the most— and pays the most eagerly, for anything, after it has 
been professionally— rubber stamped. Music may be yet unborn. 
Perhaps no music has ever been written or heard. Perhaps the 
birth of art will take place at the moment, in which the last man, 
who is willing to make a living out of art is gone and gone for- 
ever. In the history of this youthful world the best product that 
human-beings can boast of is probably, Beethoven— but, maybe, 
even his art is as nothing in comparison with the future product 
of some coal-miner's soul in the fortv-first centurv. And the same 
man who is ever asking about the most musical nation, is ever 
discovering the most musical man of the most musical nation. 
When particularly hysterical he shouts, "I have found him! 
Smith Grabholz— the one great American poet,— at last, here is 
the Moses the country has been waiting for"— (of course we all 
know that the country has not been waiting for anybody— and 
we have many Moses always with us). But the discoverer keeps 
right on shouting "Here is the one true American poetry, I pro- 



Epilogue 173 

nounce it the work of a genius. I predict for him the most bril- 
liant career—for his is an art that . . .—for his is a soul that . . . 
for his is a . . ." and Grabholz is ruined;— but ruined, not alone, 
by this perennial discoverer of pearls in any oyster-shell 
that treats him the best, but ruined by his own (Grabholz's) 
talent,— for genius will never let itself be discovered by "a man." 
Then the world may ask "Can the one true national "this" or 
"that" be killed by its own discoverer?" "No," the country re- 
plies, "but each discovery is proof of another impossibility." It is 
a sad fact that the one true man and the one true art will never 
behave as they should except in the mind of the partialist whom 
God has forgotten. But this matters little to him (the man)— his 
business is good— for it is easy to sell the future in terms of the 
past— and there are always some who will buy anything. The 
individual usually "gains" if he is willing to but lean on "man- 
ner." The evidence of this is quite widespread, for if the dis- 
coverer happens to be in any other line of business his sudden 
discoveries would be just as important— to him. In fact, the theory 
of substance and manner in art and its related dualisms, "repose 
and truth, genius and talent," Sec, may find illustration in many, 
perhaps most, of the human activities. And when examined it 
(the illustration) is quite likely to show how "manner" is always 
discovering partisans. For example, enthusiastic discoveries of the 
"paragon" are common in politics— an art to some. These revela- 
tions, in this profession are made easy by the pre-election dis- 
covering-leaders of the people. And the genius who is discovered, 
forthwith starts his speeches of "talent"— though they are hardly 
that— they are hardly more than a string of subplatitudes, square- 
looking, well-rigged things that almost everybody has seen, 
known, and heard since Rome or man fell. Nevertheless these 
signs of perfect manner, these series of noble sentiments that the 
"noble" never get off, are forcibly, clearly, and persuasively 
handed out— eloquently, even beautifully expressed, and with 
such personal charm, magnetism, and strength, that their pro- 
found messages speed right through the minds and hearts, with- 
out as much as spattering the walls, and land right square in 
the middle of the listener's vanity. For all this is a part of 
manner and its quality is of splendor— for manner is at times a 
good bluff but substance a poor one and knows it. The dis- 



174 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

covered one's usual and first great outburst is probably the 
greatest truth that he ever utters. Fearlessly standing, he looks 
straight into the eyes of the populace and with a strong ringing 
voice (for strong voices and strong statesmanship are insepar- 
able) and with words far more eloquent than the following, he 
sings "This honor is greater than I deserve but duty calls me— 
(what, not stated) ... If elected, I shall be your servant" . . . (for, 
it is told, that he believes in modesty,— that he has even boasted 
that he is the most modest man in the country) . . . Thus he has 
the right to shout, "First, last and forever I am for the people. I 
am against all bosses. I have no sympathy for politicians. I am 
for strict economy, liberal improvements and justice! I am also 
for the— ten commandments" (his intuitive political sagacity 
keeps him from mentioning any particular one).— But a sublime 
height is always reached in his perorations. Here we learn that 
he believes in honesty— (repeat "honesty");— we are even allowed 
to infer that he is one of the very few who know that there is 
such a thing; and we also learn that since he was a little boy 
(barefoot) his motto has been "Do Right,"— he swerves not from 
the right!— he believes in nothing but the right; (to him— every- 
thing is right!— if it gets him elected); but cheers invariably stop 
this great final truth (in brackets) from rising to animate ex- 
pression. Now all of these translucent axioms are true (are not 
axioms always true?),— as far as manner is concerned. In other 
words, the manner functions perfectly. But where is the divine- 
substance? This is not there— why should it be— if it were he 
might not be there. "Substance" is not featured in this discovery. 
For the truth of substance is sometimes silence, sometimes el- 
lipses,— and the latter if supplied might turn some of the declara- 
tions above into perfect truths,— for instance "first and last and 
forever I am for the people ('s votes). I'm against all bosses 
(against me). I have no sympathy for (rival) politicians," etc., 
etc. But these tedious attempts at comedy should stop,— they're 
too serious,— besides the illustration may be a little hard on a 
few, the minority (the non-people) though not on the many, the 
majority (the people)! But even an assumed parody may help 
to show what a power manner is for reaction unless it is counter- 
balanced and then saturated by the other part of the duality. 
Thus it appears that all there is to this great discovery is that 



Epilogue 175 

one good politician has discovered another good politician. For 
manner has brought forth its usual talent;— for manner cannot 
discover the genius who has discarded platitudes— the genius 
who has devised a new and surpassing order for mankind, simple 
and intricate enough, abstract and definite enough, locally im- 
practical and universally practical enough, to wipe out the need 
for further discoveries of "talent" and incidentally the discover- 
er's own fortune and political "manner." Furthermore, he (this 
genius) never will be discovered until the majority-spirit, the 
common-heart, the human-oversoul, the source of all great 
values, converts all talent into genius, all manner into substance 
—until the direct expression of the mind and soul of the major- 
ity, the divine right of all consciousness, social, moral, and spir- 
itual, discloses the one true art and thus finally discovers the one 
true leader— even itself:— then no leaders, no politicians, no man- 
ner, will hold sway— and no more speeches will be heard. 

The intensity to-day, with which techniques and media are 
organized and used, tends to throw the mind away from a "com- 
mon sense" and towards "manner" and thus to resultant weak 
and mental states— for example, the Byronic fallacy— that one 
who is full of turbid feeling about himself is qualified to be 
some sort of an artist. In this relation "manner" also leads some 
to think that emotional sympathy for self is as true a part of art 
as sympathy for others; and a prejudice in favor of the good and 
bad of one personality against the virtue of many personalities. 
It may be that when a poet or a whistler becomes conscious that 
he is in the easy path of any particular idiom,— that he is help- 
lessly prejudiced in favor of any particular means of expression, 
—that his manner can be catalogued as modern or classic,— that 
he favors a contrapuntal groove, a sound-coloring one, a sensu- 
ous one, a successful one, or a melodious one (whatever that 
means),— that his interests lie in the French school or the German 
school, or the school of Saturn,— that he is involved in this par- 
ticular "that" or that particular "this," or in any particular 
brand of emotional complexes,— in a word, when he becomes 
conscious that his style is "his personal own,"— that it has monop- 
olized a geographical part of the world's sensibilities, then it 
may be that the value of his substance is not growing,— that it 
even may have started on its way backwards,— it may be that he 



176 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

is trading an inspiration for a bad habit and finally that he is 
reaching fame, permanence, or some other under-value, and that 
he is getting farther and farther from a perfect truth. But, on 
the contrary side of the picture, it is not unreasonable to imagine 
that if he (this poet, composer, and laborer) is open to all the 
over-values within his reach,— if he stands unprotected from all 
the showers of the absolute which may beat upon him,— if he is 
willing to use or learn to use, or at least if he is not afraid of 
trying to use, whatever he can, of any and all lessons of the in- 
finite that humanity has received and thrown to man,— that 
nature has exposed and sacrificed, that life and death have 
translated— if he accepts all and sympathizes with all, is influenced 
by all, whether consciously or sub-consciously, drastically or 
humbly, audibly or inaudibly, whether it be all the virtue of 
Satan or the only evil of Heaven— and all, even, at one time, 
even in one chord,— then it may be that the value of his sub- 
stance, and its value to himself, to his art, to all art, even to the 
Common Soul is growing and approaching nearer and nearer to 
perfect truths— whatever they are and wherever they may be. 

Again, a certain kind of manner-over-influence may be 
caused by a group-disease germ. The over-influence by, the over- 
admiration of, and the over-association with a particular artistic 
personality or a particular type or group of personalities tends 
to produce equally favorable and unfavorable symptoms, but 
the unfavorable ones seem to be more contagious. Perhaps the 
impulse remark of some famous man (whose name we forget) 
that he "loved music but hated musicians," might be followed 
(with some good results) at least part of the time. To see the 
sun rise, a man has but to get up early, and he can always have 
Bach in his pocket. We hear that Mr. Smith or Mr. Morgan, etc., 
et al. design to establish a "course at Rome," to raise the stand- 
ard of American music, (or the standard of American composers 
—which is it?) but possibly the more our composer accepts from 
his patrons "et al." the less he will accept from himself. It may 
be possible that a day in a "Kansas wheat field" will do more for 
him than three years in Rome. It may be, that many men— per- 
haps some of genius— (if you won't admit that all are geniuses) 
have been started on the downward path of subsidy by trying to 
write a thousand dollar prize poem or a ten thousand dollar prize 



Epilogue 177 

opera. How many masterpieces have been prevented from blos- 
soming in this way? A cocktail will make a man eat more, but 
will not give him a healthy, normal appetite (if he had not that 
already). If a bishop should offer a "prize living" to the curate 
who will love God the hardest for fifteen days, whoever gets the 
prize would love God the least. Such stimulants, it strikes us, 
tend to industrialize art, rather than develop a spiritual sturdiness 
—a sturdiness which Mr. Sedgwick says 1 "shows itself in a close 
union between spiritual life and the ordinary business of life," 
against spiritual feebleness which "shows itself in the separation 
of the two." If one's spiritual sturdiness is congenital and some- 
what perfect he is not only conscious that this separation has no 
part in his own soul, but he does not feel its existence in others. 
He does not believe there is such a thing. But perfection in this 
respect is rare. And for the most of us, we believe, this sturdiness 
would be encouraged by anything that will keep or help us keep 
a normal balance between the spiritual life and the ordinary 
life. If for every thousand dollar prize a potato field be substi- 
tuted, so that these candidates of "Clio" can dig a little in real 
life, perhaps dig up a natural inspiration, arts-air might be a 
little clearer— a little freer from certain traditional delusions, for 
instance, that free thought and free love always go to the same 
cafe— that atmosphere and diligence are synonymous. To quote 
Thoreau incorrectly: "When half-Gods talk, the Gods walk!" 
Everyone should have the opportunity of not being over-influ- 
enced. 

Again, this over-influence by and over-insistence upon "man- 
ner" may finally lead some to believe "that manner for manner's 
sake is a basis of music." Someone is quoted as saying that "rag- 
time is the true American music." Anyone will admit that it is 
one of the many true, natural, and, nowadays, conventional 
means of expression. It is an idiom, perhaps a "set or series of 
colloquialisms," similar to those that have added through cen- 
turies and through natural means, some beauty to all languages. 
Every language is but the evolution of slang, and possibly the 
broad "A" in Harvard may have come down from the "butcher 
of Southwark." To examine ragtime rhythms and the syncopa- 
tions of Schumann or of Brahms seems to the writer to show how 

1 H. D. Sedgwick. The New American Type. Riverside Press. 



178 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

much alike they are not. Ragtime, as we hear it, is, of course, 
more (but not much more) than a natural dogma of shifted ac- 
cents, or a mixture of shifted and minus accents. It is something 
like wearing a derby hat on the back of the head, a shuffling lilt 
of a happy soul just let out of a Baptist Church in old Alabama. 
Ragtime has its possibilities. But it does not "represent the 
American nation" any more than some fine old senators represent 
it. Perhaps we know it now as an ore before it has been refined 
into a product. It may be one of nature's ways of giving art 
raw material. Time will throw its vices away and weld its virtues 
into the fabric of our music. It has its uses as the cruet on the 
boarding-house table has, but to make a meal of tomato ketchup 
and horse-radish, to plant a whole farm with sunflowers, even 
to put a sunflower into every bouquet, would be calling nature 
something worse than a politician. Mr. Daniel Gregory Mason, 
whose wholesome influence, by the way, is doing as much per- 
haps for music in America as American music is, amusingly says: 
"If indeed the land of Lincoln and Emerson has degenerated 
until nothing remains of it but a 'jerk and rattle,' then we, at 
least, are free to repudiate this false patriotism of 'my Country 
right or wrong,' to insist that better than bad music is no music, 
and to let our beloved art subside finally under the clangor of 
the subway gongs and automobile horns, dead, but not dishon- 
ored." And so may we ask: Is it better to sing inadequately of 
the "leaf on Walden floating," and die "dead but not dishon- 
ored," or to sing adequately of the "cherry on the cocktail," and 
live forever? 



If anyone has been strong enough to escape these rocks— 
this "Scylla and Charybdis,"— has survived these wrong choices, 
these under-values with their prizes, Bohemias and heroes, is 
not such a one in a better position, is he not abler and freer to 
"declare himself and so to love his cause so singly that he will 
cleave to it, and forsake all else? What is this cause for the Amer- 
ican composer but the utmost musical beauty that he, as an in- 
dividual man, with his own qualities and defects, is capable of 
understanding and striving towards?— forsaking all else except 



Epilogue 179 

those types of musical beauty that come home to him," 1 and that 
his spiritual conscience intuitively approves. 

"It matters not one jot, provided this course of personal 
loyalty to a cause be steadfastly pursued, what the special charac- 
teristics of the style of the music may be to which one gives one's 
devotion." 1 This, if over-translated, may be made to mean, what 
we have been trying to say— that if your interest, enthusiasm, and 
devotion on the side of substance and truth, are of the stuff to 
make you so sincere that you sweat— to hell with manner and 
repose! Mr. Mason is responsible for too many young minds, in 
their planting season to talk like this, to be as rough, or to go as 
far, but he would probably admit that, broadly speaking— some 
such way, i. e., constantly recognizing this ideal duality in art, 
though not the most profitable road for art to travel, is almost 
its only way out to eventual freedom and salvation. Sidney La- 
nier, in a letter to Bayard Taylor writes: "I have so many fair 
dreams and hopes about music in these days (1875). It is gospel 
whereof the people are in great need. As Christ gathered up the 
Ten Commandments and redistilled them into the clear liquid 
of the wondrous eleventh— love God utterly and thy neighbor as 
thyself— so I think the time will come when music rightly de- 
veloped to its now little forseen grandeur will be found to be a 
late revelation of all gospels in one." Could the art of music, or 
the art of anything have a more profound reason for being than 
this? A conception unlimited by the narrow names of Christian, 
Pagan, Jew, or Angel! A vision higher and deeper than art 
itself! 



The humblest composer will not find true humility in aim- 
ing low— he must never be timid or afraid of trying to express 
that which he feels is far above his power to express, any more 
than he should be afraid of breaking away, when necessary, from 
easy first sounds, or afraid of admitting that those half truths 
that come to him at rare intervals, are half true, for instance, 
that all art galleries contain masterpieces, which are nothing 

i Contemporary Composers, D. G. Mason, Macmillan Co., N. Y. 



180 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

more than a history of art's beautiful mistakes. He should never 
fear of being called a high-brow— but not the kind in Prof. 
Brander Matthews' definition. John L. Sullivan was a "high- 
brow" in his art. A high-brow can always whip a low-brow. 

If he "truly seeks," he "will surely find" many things to sus- 
tain him. He can go to a part of Alcott's philosophy— "that all 
occupations of man's body and soul in their diversity come from 
but one mind and soul!" If he feels that to subscribe to all of the 
foregoing and then submit, though not as evidence, the work of 
his own hands is presumptuous, let him remember that a man is 
not always responsible for the wart on his face, or a girl for the 
bloom on her cheek, and as they walk out of a Sunday for an 
airing, people will see them— but they must have the air. He can 
remember with Plotinus, "that in every human soul there is the 
ray of the celestial beauty," and therefore every human outburst 
may contain a partial ray. And he can believe that it is better to 
go to the plate and strike out than to hold the bench down, for 
by facing the pitcher, he may then know the umpire better, and 
possibly see a new parabola. His presumption, if it be that, may 
be but a kind of courage Juvenal sings about, and no harm can 
then be done either side. "Cantabit vacuus coram latrone 
viator." 

8 

To divide by an arbitrary line something that cannot be 
divided is a process that is disturbing to some. Perhaps our de- 
ductions are not as inevitable as they are logical, which suggests 
that they are not "logic." An arbitrary assumption is never fair 
to all any of the time, or to anyone all the time. Many will resent 
the abrupt separation that a theory of duality in music suggests 
and say that these general subdivisions are too closely inter-re- 
lated to be labeled decisively— "this or that." There is justice in 
this criticism, but our answer is that it is better to be short on 
the long than long on the short. In such an abstruse art as music 
it is easy for one to point to this as substance and to that as 
manner. Some will hold and it is undeniable— in fact quite 
obvious— that manner has a great deal to do with the beauty of 
substance, and that to make a too arbitrary division, or distinc- 



Epilogue 181 

tion between them, is to interfere, to some extent, with an art's 
beauty and unity. There is a great deal of truth in this too. But 
on the other hand, beauty in music is too often confused with 
something that lets the ears lie back in an easy chair. Many 
sounds that we are used to, do not bother us, and for that reason, 
we are inclined to call them beautiful. Frequently,— possibly al- 
most invariably,— analytical and impersonal tests will show, we 
believe, that when a new or unfamiliar work is accepted as beau- 
tiful on its first hearing, its fundamental quality is one that tends 
to put the mind to sleep. A narcotic is not always unnecessary, 
but it is seldom a basis of progress,— that is, wholesome evolution 
in any creative experience. This kind of progress has a great deal 
to do with beauty— at least in its deeper emotional interests, if 
not in its moral values. (The above is only a personal impres- 
sion, but it is based on carefully remembered instances, during 
a period of about fifteen or twenty years.) Possibly the fondness 
for individual utterance may throw out a skin-deep arrangement, 
which is readily accepted as beautiful— formulae that weaken 
rather than toughen up the musical-muscles. If the composer's 
sincere conception of his art and of its functions and ideals, coin- 
cide to such an extent with these groove-colored permutations of 
tried out progressions in expediency, that he can arrange them 
over and over again to his transcendent delight— has he or has he 
not been drugged with an overdose of habit-forming sounds? And 
as a result do not the muscles of his clientele become flabbier and 
flabbier until they give way altogether and find refuge only in a 
seasoned opera box— where they can see without thinking? And 
unity is too generally conceived of, or too easily accepted as 
analogous to form, and form (as analogous) to custom, and cus- 
tom to habit, and habit may be one of the parents of custom and 
form, and there are all kinds of parents. Perhaps all unity in art, 
at its inception, is half-natural and half-artificial but time insists, 
or at least makes us, or inclines to make us feel that it is all 
natural. It is easy for us to accept it as such. The "unity of dress" 
for a man at a ball requires a collar, yet he could dance better 
without it. Coherence, to a certain extent, must bear some rela- 
tion to the listener's subconscious perspective. For example, a 
critic has to listen to a thousand concerts a year, in which there 
is much repetition, not only of the same pieces, but the same 



182 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

formal relations of tones, cadences, progressions, etc. There is 
present a certain routine series of image-necessity-stimulants, 
which he doesn't seem to need until they disappear. Instead of 
listening to music, he listens around it. And from this subcon- 
scious viewpoint, he inclines perhaps more to the thinking about 
than thinking in music. If he could go into some other line of 
business for a year or so perhaps his perspective would be more 
naturally normal. The unity of a sonata movement has long 
been associated with its form, and to a greater extent than is 
necessary. A first theme, a development, a second in a related 
key and its development, the free fantasia, the recapitulation, 
and so on, and over again. Mr. Richter or Mr. Parker may tell 
us that all this is natural, for it is based on the classic-song form, 
but in spite of your teachers a vague feeling sometimes creeps 
over you that the form-nature of the song has been stretched out 
into deformity. Some claim for Tchaikowsky that his clarity and 
coherence of design is unparalleled (or some such word) in 
works for the orchestra. That depends, it seems to us, on how far 
repetition is an essential part of clarity and coherence. We know 
that butter comes from cream— but how long must we watch the 
"churning arm!" If nature is not enthusiastic about explanation, 
why should Tschaikowsky be? Beethoven had to churn, to some 
extent, to make his message carry. He had to pull the ear, hard 
and in the same place and several times, for the 1790 ear was 
tougher than the 1890 one. But the "great Russian weeper" 
might have spared us. To Emerson, "unity and the over-soul, or 
the common-heart, are synonymous." Unity is at least nearer to 
these than to solid geometry, though geometry may be all unity. 
But to whatever unpleasantness the holding to this theory 
of duality brings us, we feel that there is a natural law under- 
neath it all, and like all laws of nature, a liberal interpretation is 
the one nearest the truth. What part of these supplements are 
opposites? What part of substance is manner? What part of this 
duality is polarity? These questions though not immaterial may 
be disregarded, if there be a sincere appreciation (intuition is 
always sincere) of the "divine" spirit of the thing. Enthusiasm 
for, and recognition of these higher over these lower values will 
transform a destructive iconoclasm into creation, and a mere de- 



Epilogue 183 

votion into consecration— a consecration which, like Amphion's 
music, will raise the Walls of Thebes. 



Assuming, and then granting, that art-activity can be trans- 
formed or led towards an eventual consecration, by recognizing 
and using in their true relation, as much as one can, these higher 
and lower dual values— and that the doing so is a part, if not 
the whole of our old problem of paralleling or approving in art 
the highest attributes, moral and spiritual, one sees in life— if 
you will grant all this, let us offer a practical suggestion— a thing 
that one who has imposed the foregoing should try to do just 
out of common decency, though it be but an attempt, perhaps, 
to make his speculations less speculative, and to beat off meta- 
physics. 

All, men-bards with a divine spark, and bards without, feel 
the need at times of an inspiration from without, "the breath of 
another soul to stir our inner flame," especially when we are in 
pursuit of a part of that "utmost musical beauty," that we are 
capable of understanding— when we are breathlessly running to 
catch a glimpse of that unforeseen grandeur of Mr. Lanier's 
dream. In this beauty and grandeur perhaps marionettes and 
their souls have a part— though how great their part is, we hear, 
is still undetermined; but it is morally certain that, at times, a 
part with itself must be some of those greater contemplations 
that have been caught in the "World's Soul," as it were, and 
nourished for us there in the soil of its literature. 

If an interest in, and a sympathy for, the thought-visions of 
men like Charles Kingsley, Marcus Aurelius, Whittier, Mon- 
taigne, Paul of Tarsus, Robert Browning, Pythagoras, Channing, 
Milton, Sophocles, Swedenborg, Thoreau, Francis of Assisi, 
Wordsworth, Voltaire, Garrison, Plutarch, Ruskin, Ariosto, and 
all kindred spirits and souls of great measure, from David down 
to Rupert Brooke,— if a study of the thought of such men creates 
a sympathy, even a love for them and their ideal-part, it is cer- 
tain that this, however inadequately expressed, is nearer to what 
music was given man for, than a devotion to "Tristan's sensual 
love of Isolde," to the "Tragic Murder of a Drunken Duke," or 



184 Ives: Essays before a Sonata 

to the sad thoughts of a bathtub when the water is being let out. 
It matters little here whether a man who paints a picture of a 
useless beautiful landscape imperfectly is a greater genius than 
the man who paints a useful bad smell perfectly. 

It is not intended in this suggestion that inspirations coming 
from the higher planes should be limited to any particular 
thought or work, as the mind receives it. The plan rather em- 
braces all that should go with an expression of the composite- 
value. It is of the underlying spirit, the direct unrestricted im- 
print of one soul on another, a portrait, not a photograph of the 
personality— it is the ideal part that would be caught in this 
canvas. It is a sympathy for "substance"— the over-value together 
with a consciousness that there must be a lower value— the "De- 
mosthenic part of the Philippics"— the "Ciceronic part of the 
Catiline," the sublimity, against the vileness of Rousseau's Con- 
fessions. It is something akin to, but something more than these 
predominant partial tones of Hawthorne— "the grand old coun- 
tenance of Homer; the decrepit form, but vivid face of ^Esop; 
the dark presence of Dante; the wild Ariosto; Rabelais' smile of 
deep-wrought mirth; the profound, pathetic humor of Cervantes; 
the all-glorious Shakespeare; Spenser, meet guest for allegoric 
structure; the severe divinity of Milton; and Bunyan, molded of 
humblest clay, but instinct with celestial fire." 

There are communities now, partly vanished, but cherished 
and sacred, scattered throughout this world of ours, in which 
freedom of thought and soul, and even of body, have been 
fought for. And we believe that there ever lives in that part of 
the over-soul, native to them, the thoughts which these freedom- 
struggles have inspired. America is not too young to have its 
divinities, and its place legends. Many of those "Transcendent 
Thoughts" and "Visions" which had their birth beneath our 
Concord elms— messages that have brought salvation to many 
listening souls throughout the world— are still growing, day by 
day, to greater and greater beauty— are still showing clearer and 
clearer man's way to God! 

No true composer will take his substance from another 
finite being— but there are times, when he feels that his self-ex- 
pression needs some liberation from at least a part of his own 
soul. At such times, shall he not better turn to those greater 






Epilogue 185 

souls, rather than to the external, the immediate, and the "Garish 
Day"? 

The strains of one man may fall far below the course of those 
Phaetons of Concord, or of the ^Egean Sea, or of Westmorland 
—but the greater the distance his music falls away, the more 
reason that some greater man shall bring his nearer those higher 
spheres. 



Index to Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 



Acactemie de France. See Prix de 

Rome. 
Agamemnon, 43 
Albert, M., 59 
Alvarez, M., 64 

Anglo-Saxons, Superiority of, 59 
Autumn, 54 

Bach, 22 et seq., 28, 30, 52, 66 

Balakirev, 55 

Barbares, Les, 13 

Bay of Sorrento, In the, 45 

Beatitudes, The, 51 

Beaux-arts, l'e'cole nationale et 

sp^ciale de, 9 
Beethoven, 4, 7, 16 et seq., 22, 28, 

38 et seq., 62 
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, 

The, 27 
Berlioz, 34, 61 et seq., 66 
Bernheim, A., 41 
Bizet, 67 

Blue Danube, The, 44 
Bordes, 35 
Bouguereau, 10 
Brandt, Caroline, 34 
Bruneau, 40 

Cabat, Louis, 15 

Calve\ Mme., 64 

Caron, Mme., 61, 70 

Carre\ M., 71 

Castor and Pollux, 36 et seq. 

Cavalleria Rusticana, 31 

Charpentier, 40, 63 

Chevillard, 12, 39 

Chopin, 6, 25 

Choral Symphony, The, 12, 16, 62 

"Classic," 70 

Claudel, Paul, 43 

Colonne, 53, 66 

Conservatoire de Mimi Pinson, 40 

Cortot, 46 



Cossira, M., 70 
Covent Garden, 26, 59 

Dame Blanche, La, 41 

Damnation de Faust, La, 61, 63 

Danse Macabre, La, 14 

Dardanus, 36 

Decourcelle, 40 

Delmet, 30, 40 

d'Indy, 55 et seq. 

Don Quixote, 44 

Due Wildfang, 50 

Dufrane, M., 70 

Dukas, 6, 20 

Dupuis, Sylvain, 58 

Enfance du Christ, L', 63 

English audiences, Exemplariness 

of, 61 
Etranger, L', 55 et seq. 
Euryanthe, 34 
Eve, 28 

Fantin-Latour, 62 
Faust, 65 et seq. 
Fervaal, 56 
Feuersnot, 45 
Franck, Cesar, 51 et seq. 
Free Theatre, The, 43 
Freischiitz, The, 34 
French music, 36, 65, 69 
Friche, Mile., 59 

Gallet, Louis, 13 

Gavioli, 31 

Gioconda, La, 62 

Gluck, 36 et seq., 40, 63, 66, 67^ 

seq. 
Goethe, 65 
Gounod, 65 et seq. 
Greek art, 70 
Grieg, 53 et seq. 
Griselidis, 28 



186 



Index to Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 187 



Gunsbourg, 61 

Handel, 52 
Hebert, Ernest, 15 
Heldenleben, 45 

Ibsen, 55 

Institute. See Beaux-arts, Academie 

de, 9 et seq. 
Iphigenie en Aulide, 68 
Italian music, Modern, 45 

Juive, La, 43 
Jullien, 62 

Lalo, Edouard, 25 

Lalo, Pierre, 6 

Lamoureux, 12 

Lamoureux, Concerts, 32, 38 

Lasso, Orlando di, 23 

Lesueur, 69 

Levy, 60 

Lieban, M., 61 

Liszt, 39, 60 

Louis XIV, 68 

Lyon, 40 

Manon, 30 

Mascagni, 29 

Massenet, 10, 25, 28 et seq. 

Master Builder, The, 55 

Mazeppa, 39 

Mehul, 69 

Meister singers, The, 23, 25 

Mendelssohn, 18, 66 

Mend£s, Catulle, 41 

Merry Pranks of Till Eulenspiegel, 

The, 27, 44 
Messager, Andre, 59 
Meyerbeer, 6, 63 
Monte Carlo, The charms of, 64 
Mottl, Felix, 21, 60 
Moussorgski, 19 et seq. 
Mozart, 66 
Muette de Portici, La, 43 

Namouna, 25 

Neapolitan School, The, 53 
Neo-Wagnerians, 30, 66 
Nietzsche, 46 
Nikisch, 26 et seq., 50 



Ninth Symphony, The. See Choral 

Symphony. 
Noces de Jeannette, Les, 41 
Nordruck, 55 
Nursery Suite, The, 19 et seq. 

Oberon, 34 

Opera, The, 24 et seq., 29, 59 

Orchestral Fantasy, 39 

Pagliacci, 32 

Palestrina, 23, 49, 66 

Parsifal, 31, 46, 48 et seq. 

Passion According to St. John, 

The, 53 
Passion According to St. Matthew : 

The, 30 
Pastoral Symphony, The, 7, 38 et 

seq. 
People's Opera, The, 43, 69 
People's Theatre, The, 40 et seq. 
Pere la Victoire, 66 
Piccini, 68 

Prix de Rome, Le, 9, 14 et seq. 
Puccini, G., 68 
Pugno, 22 

Rameau, 36, 69 
Renaud, M., 64 
Republican Guard, 32 
Rey. See Reyer. 
Reyer, 6, 25 

Rhinegold, The, 53, 59, 61 
Richter, 21, 59 et seq. 
Rimsky-Korsakov, 55 
Ring, The, 25, 32, 59 
Romeo and Juliet, 63 
Russian School, The, 18, 55 

St. Gervais, Association of Singers 

of, 35 
Saint-Saens, 13, 25 
Sardou, Victorien, 13 
Scarlatti, Alessandro, 53 
Scarlatti, Domenico, 53 
Schiller, 17 
Schola Cantorum, 35 
Schubert, 28 
Schumann, 6, 17, 67 
Seventh Symphony, The, 50 
Siegfried Idyll, 50 



188 



Index to Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater 



Society des Grandes Auditions 
Musicales de la France, 46, 61, 64 

Spontini, 69 

Spring Song, The, 23 

Strauss, Johann, 44 

Strauss, Richard, 21, 27, 35, 44 et 
seq. 

Symphonie Fantastique, 63 

Tannhduser, 27 
Thalberg, 6 

Theatre de la Monnaie, 58 
Thedtre-roulotte, 41 
Thirty Years of the Stage, 41 
Thus Spake Zarathustra, 44 
Tristan and Isolde, 25 
Troyens, Les, 63 

Unfinished Symphony, The, 28 
Valkyrie, The, 59, 61, 66 



Valse Bleue, La, 31 

Van Dyck, 61 

Vaucanson, de, 38 

Villa Medicis. See Prix de Rome. 

Vittoria, 23 

Wagnerian art, 48. See also Neo- 

Wagnerians. 
Wagner, Cosima, 60 
Wagner, Richard, 4, 17, 23, 29, 31, 

35, 46 et seq., 51, 56, 60, 62, 65 

et seq., 69, 70 
Wagner, Siegfried, 49 et seq., 60 
Weber, 33 et seq. 
W r eingartner, 21, 38, 47, 50 
Werther, 29, 30 

Ysaye, 22 

Zimmermann, Mile., 61 



A CATALOGUE OF SELECTED DOVER BOOKS 
IN ALL FIELDS OF INTEREST 



A CATALOGUE OF SELECTED DOVER BOOKS 
IN ALL FIELDS OF INTEREST 



America's Old Masters, James T. Flexner. Four men emerged unexpectedly 
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West, J. S. Copley, C. R. Peale, Gilbert Stuart. Brilliant coverage of lives and con- 
tributions. Revised, 1967 edition. 69 plates. 365pp. of text. 

21806-0 Paperbound '$3.00 

First Flowers of Our Wilderness: American Painting, The Colonial 
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Hesselius, Feke, John Smibert and many anonymous painters in the primitive manner. 
Engaging presentation, with 162 illustrations, xxii + 368pp. 

22180-6 Paperbound $3.50 

The Light of Distant Skies: American Painting, 1760-1835, James T. Flex- 
ner. The great generation of early American painters goes to Europe to learn and 
to teach: West, Copley, Gilbert Stuart and others. Allston, Trumbull, Morse; also 
contemporary American painters — primitives, derivatives, academics — who remained 
in America. 102 illustrations, xiii + 306pp. 22179-2 Paperbound $3.50 

A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United 
States, William Dunlap. Much the richest mine of information on early American 
painters, sculptors, architects, engravers, miniaturists, etc. The only source of in- 
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reprint of rare original 1834 edition, with new introduction by James T. Flexner, 
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21695-0, 21696-9, 21697-7 Three volumes, Paperbound $13^50 

Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art, Ernest F. Fenollosa. From primitive 
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20364-6, 20365-4 Two volumes, Paperbound $6.00 

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, James A. M. Whistler. Greatest wit of his 
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CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Visual Illusions: Their Causes, Characteristics, and Applications, Mat- 
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21530-X Paperbound $2.00 

A Handbook of Anatomy for Art Students, Arthur Thomson. Thorough, vir- 
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150 Masterpieces of Drawing, Selected by Anthony Toney. Full page reproduc- 
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The Later Work of Aubrey Beardsley, Aubrey Beardsley. Exotic, erotic, 
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Drawings of Rembrandt, Rembrandt van Rijn. Complete reproduction of fabu- 
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The Disasters of War, Francisco Goya. One of the masterpieces of Western civi- 
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Graphic Works of Odilon Redon. Largest collection of Redon's graphic works 
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CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Design by Accident; A Book of "Accidental Effects" for Artists and 
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The Book of Signs, Rudolf Koch. Famed German type designer draws 493 beau- 
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History of Indian and Indonesian Art, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. An un- 
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Primitive Art, Franz Boas. America's foremost anthropologist surveys textiles, 
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The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director, Thomas Chippendale. Full 
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American Antique Furniture, Edgar G. Miller, Jr. The basic coverage of all 
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21599-7, 21600-4 Two volumes, Paperbound $11.00 

Pennsylvania Dutch American Folk Art, Henry J. Kauffman. 279 photos, 
28 drawings of tulip ware, Fraktur script, painted tinware, toys, flowered furniture, 
quilts, samplers, hex signs, house interiors, etc. Full descriptive text. Excellent for 
tourist, rewarding for designer, collector. Map. 146pp. 7% x 1034- 

21205-X Paperbound $2.50 

Early New England Gravestone Rubbings, Edmund V. Gillon, Jr. 43 photo- 
graphs, 226 carefully reproduced rubbings show heavily symbolic, sometimes 
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primitive art, occasionally strikingly beautiful; always powerful. Text, xxvi -f 
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CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Alphabets and Ornaments, Ernst Lehner. Well-known pictorial source for 
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Useful in almost any graphic arts designing, varied styles. 750 illustrations. 256pp. 
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Painting: A Creative Approach, Norman Colquhoun. For the beginner simple 
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Formerly Paint Your Own Pictures. 221pp. 22000-1 Paperbound $1.75 

The Enjoyment and Use of Color, Walter Sargent. Explanation of the rela- 
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The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, compiled and edited by Jean Paul 
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Montgomery Ward Catalogue of 1895. Tea gowns, yards of flannel and 
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The Crystal Palace Exhibition Illustrated Catalogue (London, 1851). 
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CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

A History of Costume, Carl Kohler. Definitive history, based on surviving pieces 
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Oriental Rugs, Antique and Modern, Walter A. Hawley. A complete and 

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Ten Books on Architecture, Vitruvius. By any standards the most important 
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The Four Books of Architecture, Andrea Palladio. Translated into every 
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1570, this has been one of the most influential books in the history of architecture. 
Complete reprint of the 1738 Isaac Ware edition. New introduction by Adolf 
Placzek, Columbia Univ. 216 plates, xxii -f- 110pp. of text. 9 1 / / 2 x 12%. 

21308-0 Clothbound $12.50 

Sticks and Stones: A Study of American Architecture and Civilization, 
Lewis Mumford.One of the great classics of American cultural history. American 
architecture from the medieval-inspired earliest forms to the early 20th century; 
evolution of structure and style, and reciprocal influences on environment. 21 photo- 
graphic illustrations. 238pp. 20202-X Paperbound S2.00 

The American Builder's Companion, Asher Benjamin. The most widely used 
early 19th century architectural style and source book, for colonial up into Greek 
Revival periods. Extensive development of geometry of carpentering, construction 
of sashes, frames, doors, stairs ; plans and elevations of domestic and other buildings. 
Hundreds of thousands of houses were built according to this book, now invaluable 
to historians, architects, restorers, etc. 1827 edition. 59 plates. 114pp. l 7 /g x 10%. 

22236-5 Paperbound $3.50 

Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776, Helen Wilkinson Rey- 
nolds. The standard survey of the Dutch colonial house and outbuildings, with con- 
structional features, decoration, and local history associated with individual home- 
steads. Introduction by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Map. 150 illustrations. 469pp. 
65/ 8 x9 1 / 4 . 21469-9 Paperbound S5. 00 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

The Architecture of Country Houses, Andrew J. Downing. Together with 
Vaux's Villas and Cottages this is the basic book for Hudson River Gothic architec- 
ture of the middle Victorian period. Full, sound discussions of general aspects of 
housing, architecture, style, decoration, furnishing, together with scores of detailed 
house plans, illustrations of specific buildings, accompanied by full text. Perhaps 
the most influential single American architectural book. 1850 edition. Introduction 
by J. Stewart Johnson. 321 figures, 34 architectural designs, xvi -f- 560pp. 

22003-6 Paperbound $4.00 

Lost Examples of Colonial Architecture, John Mead Howells. Full-page 
photographs of buildings that have disappeared or been so altered as to be denatured, 
including many designed by major early American architects. 245 plates, xvii + 
248pp. 778x103^ 21143-6 Paperbound $3.50 

Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and of the Early 
Republic, Fiske Kimball. Foremost architect and restorer of Williamsburg and 
Monticello covers nearly 200 homes between 1620-1825. Architectural details, con- 
struction, style features, special fixtures, floor plans, etc. Generally considered finest 
work in its area. 219 illustrations of houses, doorways, windows, capital mantels. 
xx -f- 314pp. 7% x I0y 4 . 21743-4 Paperbound $4.00 

Early American Rooms: 1650-1858, edited by Russell Hawes Kettell. Tour of 12 
rooms, each representative of a different era in American history and each furnished, 
decorated, designed and occupied in the style of the era. 72 plans and elevations, 
8-page color section, etc., show fabrics, wall papers, arrangements, etc. Full de- 
scriptive text, xvii -j- 200pp. of text. 8 3 /g x ll 1 /^- 

21633-0 Paperbound $5.00 

The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, edited by J. Fuller Maitland and W. B. Squire. 
Full modern printing of famous early 17th-century ms. volume of 300 works by 
Morley, Byrd, Bull, Gibbons, etc. For piano or other modern keyboard instrument; 
easy to read format, xxxvi -j- 938pp. 8% x 11. 

21068-5, 21069-3 Two volumes, Paperbound$10.00 

Keyboard Music, Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach Gesellschaft edition. A rich 
selection of Bach's masterpieces for the harpsichord: the six English Suites, six 
French Suites, the six Partitas (Clavierubung part I), the Goldberg Variations 
(Clavierubung part IV), the fifteen Two-Part Inventions and the fifteen Three-Part 
Sinfonias. Clearly reproduced on large sheets with ample margins; eminently play- 
able, vi -f 312pp. 8l/ 8 x 11. 22360-4 Paperbound $5.00 

The Music of Bach: An Introduction, Charles Sanford Terry. A fine, non- 
technical introduction to Bach's music, both instrumental and vocal. Covers organ 
music, chamber music, passion music, other types. Analyzes themes, developments, 
innovations, x -f 114pp. 21075-8 Paperbound $1.50 

Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies, Sir George Grove. Noted British musi- 
cologist provides best history, analysis, commentary on symphonies. Very thorough, 
rigorously accurate; necessary to both advanced student and amateur music lover. 
436 musical passages, vii -f 407 pp. 20334-4 Paperbound $2.75 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Johann Sebastian Bach, Philipp Spitta. One of the great classics of musicology, 
this definitive analysis of Bach's music (and life) has never been surpassed. Lucid, 
nontechnical analyses of hundreds of pieces (30 pages devoted to St. Matthew Pas- 
sion, 26 to B Minor Mass). Also includes major analysis of 18th-century music. 
450 musical examples. 40-page musical supplement. Total of xx -f- 1799pp. 

(EUK) 22278-0, 22279-9 Two volumes, Clothbound $17.50 

Mozart and His Piano Concertos, Cuthbert Girdlestone. The only full-length 
study of an important area of Mozart's creativity. Provides detailed analyses of all 
23 concertos, traces inspirational sources. 417 musical examples. Second edition. 
509pp. 21271-8 Paperbound $3.50 

The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Niblung's Ring, George 
Bernard Shaw. Brilliant and still relevant criticism in remarkable essays on 
Wagner's Ring cycle, Shaw's ideas on political and social ideology behind the 
plots, role of Leitmotifs, vocal requisites, etc. Prefaces, xxi -f- 136pp. 

(USO) 21707-8 Paperbound $1.50 

Don Giovanni, W. A. Mozart. Complete libretto, modern English translation; 
biographies of composer and librettist; accounts of early performances and critical 
reaction. Lavishly illustrated. All the material you need to understand and 
appreciate this great work. Dover Opera Guide and Libretto Series ; translated 
and introduced by Ellen Bleiler. 92 illustrations. 209pp. 

21134-7 Paperbound $2.00 

Basic Electricity, U. S. Bureau of Naval Personel. Originally a training course, 
best non-technical coverage of basic theory of electricity and its applications. Funda- 
mental concepts, batteries, circuits, conductors and wiring techniques, AC and DC, 
inductance and capacitance, generators, motors, transformers, magnetic amplifiers, 
synchros, servomechanisms, etc. Also covers blue-prints, electrical diagrams, etc. 
Many questions, with answers. 349 illustrations, x -j- 448pp. 6 1 / / 2 x 9 1 /^- 

20973-3 Paperbound $3.50 

Reproduction of Sound, Edgar Villchur. Thorough coverage for laymen of 
high fidelity systems, reproducing systems in general, needles, amplifiers, preamps, 
loudspeakers, feedback, explaining physical background. "A rare talent for making 
technicalities vividly comprehensible," R. Darrell, High Fidelity. 69 figures, 
iv + 92pp. 21515-6 Paperbound $1.25 

Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: The Story of Jazz as Told by the Men Who 
Made It, Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff. Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Jo Jones, 
Clarence Williams, Billy Holiday, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and dozens 
of other jazz greats tell how it was in Chicago's South Side, New Orleans, depres- 
sion Harlem and the modern West Coast as jazz was born and grew, xvi -f- 429pp- 

21726-4 Paperbound $3.00 

Fables of Aesop, translated by Sir Roger L'Estrange. A reproduction of the very 
rare 1931 Paris edition; a selection of the most interesting fables, together with 50 
imaginative drawings by Alexander Calder. v -f- 128pp. 6 1 /2x9 1 /4- 

21780-9 Paperbound $1.50 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Against the Grain (A Rebours), Joris K. Huysmans. Filled with weird images, 
evidences of a bizarre imagination, exotic experiments with hallucinatory drugs, 
rich tastes and smells and the diversions of its sybarite hero Due Jean des Esseintes, 
this classic novel pushed 19th-century literary decadence to its limits. Full un- 
abridged edition. Do not confuse this with abridged editions generally sold. Intro- 
duction by Havelock Ellis, xlix + 206pp. 22190-3 Paperbound $2.00 

Variorum Shakespeare: Hamlet. Edited by Horace H. Furness; a landmark 
of American scholarship. Exhaustive footnotes and appendices treat all doubtful 
words and phrases, as well as suggested critical emendations throughout the play's 
history. First volume contains editor's own text, collated with all Quartos and 
Folios. Second volume contains full first Quarto, translations of Shakespeare's 
sources (Belleforest, and Saxo Grammaticus), Der Bestrafte Brudermord, and many 
essays on critical and historical points of interest by major authorities of past and 
present. Includes details of staging and costuming over the years. By far the 
best edition available for serious students of Shakespeare. Total of xx -(- 905pp. 

21004-9, 21005-7, 2 volumes, Paperbound $7.00 

A Life of William Shakespeare, Sir Sidney Lee. This is the standard life of 
Shakespeare, summarizing everything known about Shakespeare and his plays. 
Incredibly rich in material, broad in coverage, clear and judicious, it has served 
thousands as the best introduction to Shakespeare. 1931 edition. 9 plates. 
xxix -f 792pp. (USO) 21967-4 Paperbound $3.75 

Masters of the Drama, John Gassner. Most comprehensive history of the drama 
in print, covering every tradition from Greeks to modern Europe and America, 
including India, Far East, etc. Covers more than 800 dramatists, 2000 plays, with 
biographical material, plot summaries, theatre history, criticism, etc. "Best of its 
kind in English," New Republic. 11 illustrations, xxii + 890pp. 

20100-7 Clothbound $8.50 

The Evolution of the English Language, George McKnight. The growth 
of English, from the 14th century to the present. Unusual, non-technical account 
presents basic information in very interesting form: sound shifts, change in grammar 
and syntax, vocabulary growth, similar topics. Abundantly illustrated with quota- 
tions. Formerly Modern English in the Making, xii -f 590pp. 

21932-1 Paperbound $3.50 

An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, Ernest Weekley. Fullest, 
richest work of its sort, by foremost British lexicographer. Detailed word histories, 
including many colloquial and archaic words; extensive quotations. Do not con- 
fuse this with the Concise Etymological Dictionary, which is much abridged. Total 
of xxvii + 830pp. 6 l / 2 x 9 l A- 

21873-2, 21874-0 Two volumes, Paperbound $7.90 

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, E. A. Abbott. Classic of 
science-fiction explores ramifications of life in a two-dimensional world, and what 
happens when a three-dimensional being intrudes. Amusing reading, but also use- 
ful as introduction to thought about hyperspace. Introduction by Banesh Hoffmann. 
16 illustrations, xx + 103pp. 20001-9 Paperbound $1.00 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Poems of Anne Bradstreet, edited with an introduction by Robert Hutchinson. 
A new selection of poems by America's first poet and perhaps the first significant 
woman poet in the English language. 48 poems display her development in works 
of considerable variety — love poems, domestic poems, religious meditations, formal 
elegies, "quaternions," etc. Notes, bibliography, viii + 222pp. 

22160-1 Paperbound $2.50 

Three Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole; 
Vathek by William Beckford; The Vampyre by John Polidori, with Frag- 
ment of a Novel by Lord Byron, edited by E. F. Bleiler. The first Gothic 
novel, by Walpole; the finest Oriental tale in English, by Beckford; powerful 
Romantic supernatural story in versions by Polidori and Byron. All extremely 
important in history of literature; all still exciting, packed with supernatural 
thrills, ghosts, haunted castles, magic, etc. xl + 291pp. 

21232-7 Paperbound $2.50 

The Best Tales of Hoffmann, E. T. A. Hoffmann. 10 of Hoffmann's most 
important stories, in modern re-editings of standard translations: Nutcracker and 
the King of Mice, Signor Formica, Automata, The Sandman, Rath Krespel, The 
Golden Flowerpot, Master Martin the Cooper, The Mines of Falun, The King's 
Betrothed, A New Year's Eve Adventure. 7 illustrations by Hoffmann. Edited 
by E. F. Bleiler. xxxix -f 419pp. 21793-0 Paperbound s 3-00 

Ghost and Horror Stories of Ambrose Bierce, Ambrose Bierce. 23 strikingly 
modern stories of the horrors latent in the human mind: The Eyes of the Panther, 
The Damned Thing, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, An Inhabitant of Carcosa, 
etc., plus the dream-essay, Visions of the Night. Edited by E. F. Bleiler. xxii 
+ 199pp. 20767-6 Paperbound $1.50 

Best Ghost Stories of J. S. LeFanu, J. Sheridan LeFanu. Finest stories by 
Victorian master often considered greatest supernatural writer of all. Carmilla, 
Green Tea, The Haunted Baronet, The Familiar, and 12 others. Most never before 
available in the U. S. A. Edited by E. F. Bleiler. 8 illustrations from Victorian 
publications, xvii + 467pp. 20415-4 Paperbound $3.00 



Mathematical Foundations of Information Theory, A. I. Khinchin. Com- 
prehensive introduction to work of Shannon, McMillan, Feinstein and Khinchin, 
placing these investigations on a rigorous mathematical basis. Covers entropy 
concept in probability theory, uniqueness theorem, Shannon's inequality, ergodic 
sources, the E property, martingale concept, noise, Feinstein' s fundamental lemma, 
Shanon's first and second theorems. Translated by R. A. Silverman and M. D. 
Friedman, iii + 120pp. 60434-9 Paperbound $2.00 



Seven Science Fiction Novels, H. G. Wells. The standard collection of the 
great novels. Complete, unabridged. First Men in the Moon, Island of Dr. Moreau, 
War of the Worlds, Food of the Gods, Invisible Man, Time Machine, In the Days 
of the Comet. Not only science fiction fans, but every educated person owes it to 
himself to read these novels. 1015pp. (USO) 20264-X Clothbound §6.00 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Last and First Men and Star Maker, Two Science Fiction Novels, Olaf 
Stapledon. Greatest future histories in science fiction. In the first, human intelli- 
gence is the "hero," through strange paths of evolution, interplanetary invasions, 
incredible technologies, near extinctions and reemergences. Star Maker describes the 
quest of a band of star rovers for intelligence itself, through time and space: weird 
inhuman civilizations, crustacean minds, symbiotic worlds, etc. Complete, un- 
abridged, v -f 438pp. (USO) 21962-3 Paperbound $2.50 

Three Prophetic Novels, H. G. Wells. Stages of a consistently planned future 
for mankind. When the Sleeper Wakes, and A Story of the Days to Come, anticipate 
Brave New World and 1984, in the 21st Century; The Time Machine, only com- 
plete version in print, shows farther future and the end of mankind. All show 
Wells's greatest gifts as storyteller and novelist. Edited by E. F. Bleiler. x 
+ 335pp. (USO) 20605-X Paperbound $2.50 

The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce. America's own Oscar Wilde — 
Ambrose Bierce — offers his barbed iconoclastic wisdom in over 1,000 definitions 
hailed by H. L. Mencken as "some of the most gorgeous witticisms in the English 
language." 145pp. 20487-1 Paperbound $1.25 

Max and Moritz, Wilhelm Busch. Great children's classic, father of comic 
strip, of two bad boys, Max and Moritz. Also Ker and Plunk (Plisch und Plumm), 
Cat and Mouse, Deceitful Henry, Ice-Peter, The Boy and the Pipe, and five other 
pieces. Original German, with English translation. Edited by H. Arthur Klein; 
translations by various hands and H. Arthur Klein, vi -J- 216pp. 

20181-3 Paperbound $2.00 

Pigs is Pigs and Other Favorites, Ellis Parker Butler. The title story is one 
of the best humor short stories, as Mike Flannery obfuscates biology and English. 
Also included, That Pup of Murchison's, The Great American Pie Company, and 
Perkins of Portland. 14 illustrations, v + 109pp. 21532-6 Paperbound $1.25 

The Peterkin Papers, Lucretia P. Hale. It takes genius to be as stupidly mad as 
the Peterkins, as they decide to become wise, celebrate the "Fourth," keep a cow, 
and otherwise strain the resources of the Lady from Philadelphia. Basic book of 
American humor. 153 illustrations. 219pp. 20794-3 Paperbound $1.50 

Perrault's Fairy Tales, translated by A. E. Johnson and S. R. Littlewood, with 
34 full-page illustrations by Gustave Dore. All the original Perrault stories — 
Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bluebeard, Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Tom 
Thumb, etc. — with their witty verse morals and the magnificent illustrations of 
Dore. One of the five or six great books of European fairy tales, viii -f- H7pp. 
8i/ 8 x 11. 22311-6 Paperbound $2.00 

Old Hungarian Fairy Tales, Baroness Orczy. Favorites translated and adapted 
by author of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Eight fairy tales include "The Suitors of Princess 
Fire-Fly," "The Twin Hunchbacks," "Mr. Cuttlefish's Love Story," and "The 
Enchanted Cat." This little volume of magic and adventure will captivate children 
as it has for generations. 90 drawings by Montagu Barstow. 96pp. 

22293-4 Paperbound $1.95 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

The Red Fairy Book, Andrew Lang. Lang's color fairy books have long been 
children's favorites. This volume includes Rapunzel, Jack and the Bean-stalk and 
35 other stories, familiar and unfamiliar. 4 plates, 93 illustrations x -|- 367pp. 

21673-X Paperbound $2.50 

The Blue Fairy Book, Andrew Lang. Lang's tales come from all countries and all 
times. Here are 37 tales from Grimm, the Arabian Nights, Greek Mythology, and 
other fascinating sources. 8 plates, 130 illustrations, xi -f- 390pp. 

21437-0 Paperbound $2.50 

Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm. Classic English-language edition 
of the well-known tales — Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, The 
Twelve Brothers, Faithful John, Rapunzel, Tom Thumb (52 stories in all). Trans- 
lated into simple, straightforward English by Lucy Crane. Ornamented with head- 
pieces, vignettes, elaborate decorative initials and a dozen full-page illustrations by 
Walter Crane, x + 269pp. 21080-4 Paperbound $2.00 

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle. The finest modern ver- 
sions of the traditional ballads and tales about the great English outlaw. Howard 
Pyle's complete prose version, with every word, every illustration of the first edition. 
Do not confuse this facsimile of the original (1883) with modern editions that 
change text or illustrations. 23 plates plus many page decorations, xxii -|- 296pp. 

22043-5 Paperbound $2.50 

The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, Howard Pyle. The finest chil- 
dren's version of the life of King Ardiur; brilliantly retold by Pyle, with 48 of his 
most imaginative illustrations, xviii -f- 313pp. 6 l /& x 9 l A- 

21445-1 Paperbound S2.50 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum. America's finest children's 
book in facsimile of first edition with all Denslow illustrations in full color. The 
edition a child should have. Introduction by Martin Gardner. 23 color plates, 
scores of drawings, iv -f- 267pp. 20691-2 Paperbound $2.50 

The Marvelous Land of Oz, L. Frank Baum. The second Oz book, every bit as 
imaginative as the Wizard. The hero is a boy named Tip, but the Scarecrow and the 
Tin Woodman are back, as is the Oz magic. 16 color plates, 120 drawings by John 
R. Neill. 287pp. 20692-0 Paperbound $2.50 

The Magical Monarch of Mo, L. Frank Baum. Remarkable adventures in a land 
even stranger than Oz. The best of Baum's books not in the Oz series. 15 color 
plates and dozens of drawings by Frank Verbeck. xviii -J- 237pp. 

21892-9 Paperbound $2.25 

The Bad Child's Book of Beasts, More Beasts for Worse Children, A 
Moral Alphabet, Hilaire Belloc. Three complete humor classics in one volume. 
Be kind to the frog, and do not call him names . . . and 28 other whimsical animals. 
Familiar favorites and some not so w^ell known. Illustrated by Basil Blackwell. 
156pp. (USO) 20749-8 Paperbound SI. 50 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon, George W. Dasent. Considered the 
best of all translations of these Norwegian folk tales, this collection has been enjoyed 
by generations of children (and folklorists too) . Includes True and Untrue, Why the 
Sea is Salt, East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon, Why the Bear is Stumpy-Tailed, 
Boots and the Troll, The Cock and the Hen, Rich Peter the Pedlar, and 52 more. 
The only edition with all 59 tales. 77 illustrations by Erik Werenskiold and Theodor 
Kittelsen. xv + 418pp. 22521-6 Paperbound $3.50 

Goops and How TO be Them, Gelett Burgess. Classic of tongue-in-cheek humor, 
masquerading as etiquette book. 87 verses, twice as many cartoons, show mis- 
chievous Goops as they demonstrate to children virtues of table manners, neatness, 
courtesy, etc. Favorite for generations, viii -j- 88pp. 6V2 x 9^4- 

22233-0 Paperbound $1.25 

Alice's Adventures Under Ground, Lewis Carroll. The first version, quite 
different from the final Alice in Wonderland, printed out by Carroll himself with 
his own illustrations. Complete facsimile of the "million dollar" manuscript Carroll 
gave to Alice Liddell in 1864. Introduction by Martin Gardner, viii -f- 96pp. Title 
and dedication pages in color. 21482-6 Paperbound $1.25 

The Brownies, Their Book, Palmer Cox. Small as mice, cunning as foxes, exu- 
berant and full of mischief, the Brownies go to the 200, toy shop, seashore, circus, 
etc., in 24 verse adventures and 266 illustrations. Long a favorite, since their first 
appearance in St. Nicholas Magazine, xi + 144pp. 65/g x 9 l A- 

21265-3 Paperbound $1.75 

Songs of Childhood, Walter De La Mare. Published (under the pseudonym 
Walter Ramal) when De La Mare was only 29, this charming collection has long 
been a favorite children's book. A facsimile of the first edition in paper, the 47 poems 
capture the simplicity of the nursery rhyme and the ballad, including such lyrics as 
I Met Eve, Tartary, The Silver Penny, vii + 106pp. (USO) 21972-0 Paperbound 

$1.25 

The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear, Edward Lear. The finest 19th-century 
humorist-cartoonist in full: all nonsense limericks, zany alphabets, Owl and Pussy- 
cat, songs, nonsense botany, and more than 500 illustrations by Lear himself. Edited 
by Holbrook Jackson, xxix + 287pp. (USO) 20167-8 Paperbound $2.00 

Billy Whiskers: The Autobiography of a Goat, Frances Trego Montgomery. 
A favorite of children since the early 20th century, here are the escapades of that 
rambunctious, irresistible and mischievous goat — Billy Whiskers. Much in the 
spirit of Peck's Bad Boy, this is a book that children never tire of reading or hearing. 
All the original familiar illustrations by W. H. Fry are included: 6 color plates, 
18 black and white drawings. 159pp. 22345-0 Paperbound $2.00 

Mother Goose Melodies. Faithful republication of the fabulously rare Munroe 
and Francis "copyright 1833" Boston edition — the most important Mother Goose 
collection, usually referred to as the "original." Familiar rhymes plus many rare 
ones, with wonderful old woodcut illustrations. Edited by E. F. Bleiler. 128pp. 
4V 2 x6y 8 . 22577-1 Paperbound $1.00 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Two Little Savages; Being the Adventures of Two Boys Who Lived as 
Indians and What They Learned, Ernest Thompson Seton. Great classic of 
nature and boyhood provides a vast range of woodlore in most palatable form, a 
genuinely entertaining story. Two farm boys build a teepee in woods and live in it 
for a month, working out Indian solutions to living problems, star lore, birds and 
animals, plants, etc. 293 illustrations, vii -f- 286pp. 

20985-7 Paperbound $2.50 

Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain & Perfect Pronunciation. 

Alliterative jingles and tongue-twisters of surprising charm, that made their first 
appearance in America about 1830. Republished in full with the spirited woodcut 
illustrations from this earliest American edition. 32pp. 4y 2 x 6%. 

22560-7 Paperbound $1.00 

Science Experiments and Amusements for Children, Charles Vivian. 73 easy 
experiments, requiring only materials found at home or easily available, such as 
candles, coins, steel wool, etc. ; illustrate basic phenomena like vacuum, simple 
chemical reaction, etc. All safe. Modern, well-planned. Formerly Science Games 
for Children. 102 photos, numerous drawings. 96pp. 6 l /g x 9 1 /4 . 

21856-2 Paperbound $1.25 

An Introduction to Chess Moves and Tactics Simply Explained, Leonard 
Barden. Informal intermediate introduction, quite strong in explaining reasons for 
moves. Covers basic material, tactics, important openings, traps, positional play in 
middle game, end game. Attempts to isolate patterns and recurrent configurations. 
Formerly Ches s. 58 figures. 102pp. (USO) 21210-6 Paperbound $1.25 



Lasker's Manual of Chess, Dr. Emanuel Lasker. Lasker was not only one of the 
five great World Champions, he was also one of the ablest expositors, theorists, and 
analysts. In many ways, his Manual, permeated with his philosophy of battle, filled 
with keen insights, is one of the greatest works ever written on chess. Filled with 
analyzed games by the great players. A single-volume library that will profit almost 
any chess player, beginner or master. 308 diagrams, xli x 349pp. 

20640-8 Paperbound $2.75 

The Master Book of Mathematical Recreations, Fred Schuh. In opinion of 
many the finest work ever prepared on mathematical puzzles, stunts, recreations ; 
exhaustively thorough explanations of mathematics involved, analysis of effects, 
citation of puzzles and games. Mathematics involved is elementary. Translated bv 
F. Gobel. 194 figures, xxiv + 430pp. 22134-2 Paperbound $3.50 



Mathematics, Magic and Mystery, Martin Gardner. Puzzle editor for Scientific 
American explains mathematics behind various mystifying tricks: card tricks, stage 
"mind reading," coin and match tricks, counting out games, geometric dissections, 
etc. Probability sets, theory of numbers clearly explained. Also provides more than 
400 tricks, guaranteed to work, that you can do. 135 illustrations, xii -f- 176pp. 

20335-2 Paperbound $1.75 



CATALOGUE OF DOVER BOOKS 

Mathematical Puzzles for Beginners and Enthusiasts, Geoffrey Mott-Smith. 
189 puzzles from easy to difficult — involving arithmetic, logic, algebra, properties 
of digits, probability, etc. — for enjoyment and mental stimulus. Explanation of 
mathematical principles behind the puzzles. 135 illustrations, viii -f- 248pp. 

20198-8 Paperbound $1.75 

Paper Folding for Beginners, William D. Murray and Francis J. Rigney. Easiest 
book on the market, clearest instructions on making interesting, beautiful origami. 
Sail boats, cups, roosters, frogs that move legs, bonbon boxes, standing birds, etc. 
40 projects; more than 275 diagrams and photographs. 94pp. 

20713-7 Paperbound $1.00 

Tricks and Games on the Pool Table, Fred Herrmann. 79 tricks and games — 
some solitaires, some for two or more players, some competitive games — to entertain 
you between formal games. Mystifying shots and throws, unusual caroms, tricks 
involving such props as cork, coins, a hat, etc. Formerly Fun on the Fool table. 
11 figures. 95pp. 21814-7 Paperbound $1.00 

Hand Shadows to be Thrown Upon the Wall: A Series of Novel and 
Amusing Figures Formed by the Hand, Henry Bursill. Delightful picturebook 
from great-grandfather's day shows how to make 18 different hand shadows: a bird 
that flies, duck that quacks, dog that wags his tail, camel, goose, deer, boy, turtle, 
etc. Only book of its sort, vi -f 33pp. 6 l / 2 x 9 1 /4- 21779-5 Paperbound $1.00 

Whittling and Woodcarving, E. J. Tangerman. 18th printing of best book on 
market. "If you can cut a potato you can carve" toys and puzzles, chains, chessmen, 
caricatures, masks, frames, woodcut blocks, surface patterns, much more. Information 
on tools, woods, techniques. Also goes into serious wood sculpture from Middle 
Ages to present, East and West. 464 photos, figures, x -f- 293pp. 

20965-2 Paperbound $2.00 

History of Philosophy, Julian Marias. Possibly the clearest, most easily followed, 
best planned, most useful one-volume history of philosophy on the market ; neither 
skimpy nor overfull. Full details on system of every major philosopher and dozens 
of less important thinkers from pre-Socratics up to Existentialism and later. Strong 
on many European figures usually omitted. Has gone through dozens of editions in 
Europe. 1966 edition, translated by Stanley Appelbaum and Clarence Strowbridge. 
xviii -f 505pp. 21739-6 Paperbound $3.50 

Yoga: A Scientific Evaluation, Kovoor T. Behanan. Scientific but non-technical 
study of physiological results of yoga exercises; done under auspices of Yale U. 
Relations to Indian thought, to psychoanalysis, etc. 16 photos, xxiii -f- 270pp. 

20505-3 Paperbound $2.50 

Prices subject to change without notice. 

Available at your book dealer or write for free catalogue to Dept. GI, Dover 
Publications, Inc., 180 Varick St., N. Y., N. Y. 10014. Dover publishes more than 
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DATE 


DUE 




















































































































































GAYLORD 






PRINTED IN U.SA 



WELLESLEY COLLEGE LIBRARY 




3 5002 03365 4794 



Music ML 90 . T47 1962 



Three classics in the 
aesthetic of music